In a landmark verdict, the Supreme Court today unanimously ruled to scrap Section 497, which deals with adultery, of the Indian Penal Court.

A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra declared Section 497 as unconstitutional.

The apex court observed that mere adultery cannot be a crime unless it attracts the scope of IPC’s Section 306 which deals with abetment of suicide. However, the court said that adultery can be a ground for divorce.

According to the apex court the law sees the woman only as a victim and not the abettor of the crime of adultery and thus decided to strike down Section 497 of the Indian Penal court.

According to the petitioners, Section 497 does not treat men and women equally as it gives a husband the exclusive right to prosecute his wife’s lover and should thus be scrapped.

Further, the law does not take into account cases where the husband has sexual relations with an unmarried woman.

The Supreme Court also decided that a sexual act between two consenting adults cannot be treated as a criminal offence.