Adultery is never again a criminal offence in India however it very well may be justification for divorce, the Supreme Court said today, trashing a 158-year law that punished a man for an issue yet not a woman, regarding her as her husband’s property. “It’s a great opportunity to state the spouse is no longer the ace of the lady,” said a five-judge constitution bench, consistently staying up for gender justice and getting out the Victorian Adultery law as self-assertive.

Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code rebuffed a man who engages in extramarital relations with a lady “without the assent or conspiracy of” her husband, with up to five years in prison. An appeal to said by excusing wives of adultery whenever done with the assent of their husbands, it oppresses ladies, and sums to “institutionalized discrimination”.

The petition seeking the repeal of Section 497 IPC was filed by Joseph Shine, who termed the 158-year-old law “unjust, illegal and arbitrary and violative of citizens’ fundamental rights”.

Adultery cannot and should not be a crime,” said outgoing Chief Justice Dipak Misra, who has conveyed a large number of dynamic choices in his most recent couple of weeks in office – one of the busiest – before resigning on October 2. Three weeks back, the Supreme Court striked down a provincial period prohibition on gay sex.

The judges noticed that most nations had annulled laws against adultery.

During arguments, the centre had shielded the law saying adultery must remain a crime so that the sanctity of marriage can be secured. The top court had then addressed how the law saved the sacredness of marriage when the extra marial affair didn’t welcome punishment if the woman’s better half remained by her.

The Chief Justice said yesterday that adultery probably won’t be the reason for a despondent marriage; it could be the consequence of one.