unconstitutional Current Affairs - 2020

Adultery: Supreme Court declares Section 497 of IPC unconstitutional

Supreme Court has unanimously struck down Section 497 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) 1860 that makes adultery punishable offence for men. The judgment was given by five-judge bench of the Supreme Court including Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra on petition filed by non-resident Keralite  Joseph Shine. Justice Indu Malhotra was lone woman judge on this bench.

Section 497 of IPC

Adultery: It says that whoever has sexual intercourse with person who is and whom he knows or has reason to believe to be wife of another man, without consent or connivance of that man, such sexual intercourse not amounting to offence of rape, is guilty of  offence of adultery. Such person shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for term which may extend to five years or with fine, or with both.

In such case the wife shall not be punishable as an abettor. Moreover, according to earlier Delhi High Court in case of Brij Lal Bishnoi v/s State (1996) only sexual intercourse with married woman will be considered adultery. Sexual relations with widow, sex worker or an unmarried woman would not attract this section. Section 497 did not confer any right on women to prosecute adulterous husband or woman with whom husband has indulged in sexual intercourse with. The husband solely has been permitted to prosecute adulterer.

SC Judgment

158-year-old Section 497 of IPC is unconstitutional and fell foul of Article 21 (Right to life and personal liberty) and Article 14 (Right to equality). It also declared Section 198(1) and 198(2) of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1974 which allows husband to bring charges against man with whom his wife committed adultery, unconstitutional.

The apex court held that adultery could be ground for civil issues, including dissolution of marriage, but it could not be criminal offence. It also stated that husband is not the master of wife or wife is not chattel of husband and legal sovereignty of one sex over other sex is wrong.

Section 497 of IPC was manifestly arbitrary and offends the dignity of women and is violative of rights to equality and equal opportunity to women. The apex court held that if any aggrieved spouse ended her life because of her partner’s adulterous relation, it could be treated as abetment to suicide if evidence was produced,

Section 497 also deprived a woman of her privacy and was clear violation of fundamental rights granted in Constitution and there was no justification for the continuation of provision. It was also violative of rights to equality and equal opportunity to women.

Catalan’s independence dreams-unconstitutional: Spanish Court

The call for independence via a referendum in November in one of the most powerful region’s of Spain has been put on hold by the nations’s top law court. The recent turn of events took place when the Spanish government decided to file a case against the constitutional validity of the move which was taken by some anti-national elements. The usual legal process puts a big question mark on the feasibility of the referendum happening in November. The court which will hear both the sides unanimously to approve the referendum may take months or years to come to a legal outcome for the same.

The referendum which was led by Catalonian regional leader Arttur Mas, has been termed as a blow on the Spanish unity and thus simply unconstitutional. The action by the central court was instigated by the open public comments made by the Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy who said that the referendum poses a ” grave attack on the rights of all Spaniards”. The 1979 Constitution of Spain only allows the Spanish to vote for sovereignty of the nation and no part of population should vote against it.

The PM Mariano Rajoy after a series of emergency meetings with the cabinet came to a conclusion that the Spanish Constitution calls for indissoluble unity of the Spanish state and this should not be compromised under any condition. Catalan politicians have been pushing for similar demands since a long time. The regional government at Catalan is said to be gearing up for the vote and have started informing public about the same. The Catalan leader Artur Mas has insisted on going ahead with the vote but has also insisted on keeping the same within the legal framework. The government it is said to have presented the proposal of mutual talks with the Catalan leaders to listen to their set of demands and woes and act accordingly.