Reached Daily Limit?

Explore a new way of legal research!

Click Here
Indian Case Summary

Joseph Shine vs Union Of India on 27 September, 2018 – Case Summary

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

In the case of Joseph Shine vs Union of India on 27 September 2018, the Supreme Court of India was presented with a landmark opportunity to reassess and redefine the legal and societal understanding of adultery in India. The case was a challenge to the constitutional validity of Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Section 198 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), both of which pertain to the offence of adultery.

Facts of the Case

The petitioner, Joseph Shine, filed a writ petition under Article 32 of the Constitution of India challenging the validity of Section 497 IPC. The provision in question, Section 497, criminalizes adultery, but only holds a man liable for the offence. The woman, even though an equal participant in the act, is not considered an offender. This provision also stipulates that the husband of the adulterous wife has the exclusive right to prosecute the adulterer. However, if the husband consents or connives in the act of adultery, no offence is considered to have been committed.

Issues Raised

The primary issue raised in the case was the constitutional validity of Section 497 of the IPC and Section 198 of the CrPC. The petitioner argued that these provisions were discriminatory and violated the fundamental rights of equality and life guaranteed under Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India. The petitioner contended that the law was biased in favour of men and against women, and it did not treat women as independent entities with the right to make their own choices.

Court’s Observations

The Supreme Court, in its judgment, made several critical observations. It noted that the beauty of the Indian Constitution lies in its inclusiveness, and any provision that discriminates against women invites the wrath of the Constitution. The court observed that the societal changes and the rights expanded by the Court necessitate a relook at the existing laws. The court also noted that the concept of certainty of law should not be allowed to prevail and govern in an inflexible manner.

The court further observed that the provision of adultery in the IPC is archaic and does not fit into the concept of a progressive and evolving society. The court stated that a husband is not the master of his wife and that any provision that treats a woman with indignity, inequality, and discrimination invites the wrath of the Constitution.

The court also noted that the provision of adultery treats a woman as a property of a man and is therefore a reflection of the societal transformation that is needed. The court stated that it is time to say that a husband is not the master of his wife and that equality is the governing parameter of the Constitution.

Conclusion

The court’s observations in the case of Joseph Shine vs Union of India represent a significant step towards gender equality in India. The court’s decision to reassess the legal understanding of adultery and its impact on women’s rights is a testament to the evolving nature of constitutional interpretation and the judiciary’s role in upholding the principles of justice, equality, and dignity. The case serves as a reminder that laws must evolve with changing societal norms and perceptions, and that the Constitution, as a living document, must reflect these changes.