Adultery is no longer a crime in India, the Supreme Court said today, junking a 158-year law that punished a man for an affair but not the woman. Making adultery a crime is retrograde and would mean "punishing unhappy people", said Justice Dipak Misra. The following is the chronology of events that led to the verdict:
October 10, 2017: Plea filed in the Supreme Court challenging the constitutional validity of Section 497 of IPC, by an NRI from Kerala, Joseph Shine, who in his petition said Section 497 was "prima facie unconstitutional on the ground that it discriminates against men and violates Article 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution".
December 8: The Supreme Court agrees to examine the constitutional validity of penal provision on adultery.
January 5, 2018: The Supreme Court refers to a five-judge Constitution bench the plea challenging the validity of the penal law on adultery.
July 11: Centre tells Supreme Court that striking down Section 497 will destroy the institution of marriage.
August 1: Constitution bench commences hearing.
August 2: The Supreme Court says matrimonial sanctity is an issue but the penal provision on adultery is apparently violative of the right to equality under the Constitution.
August 8: Centre favours the retention of penal law on adultery, says it is a public wrong which causes mental and physical injury to the spouse, children and the family.
August 8: The Supreme Court reserves verdict on pleas challenging the constitutional validity of the penal law on adultery in the hearing that went on for six days.
September 27: The Supreme Court holds Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code as unconstitutional and strikes down the penal provision.