Last Monday, the Punjab & Haryana High Court ruled that if two adults are in a live-in relationship with one other, even if they are already married to someone else, no crime of adultery has been committed.
In the case of Joseph Shine v. Union of India, the Supreme Court declared Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code (allowing for the punishment of adultery) unconstitutional.
The Court was hearing a protection petition brought by a live-in couple; who wanted the official respondents to stop harassing them at the request of respondent no. 4 (the petitioner’s wife) to 6.
The petitioners’ counsel claimed that petitioner no. 2 (Man) and respondent no. 4 (Wife) were already married; but that he filed a divorce petition, which was dismissed, and; that he then appealed to the High Court, which is still pending.
Observations of Court
After hearing the parties’ arguments and analyzing the facts of the case, the Court came to the conclusion that; the petitioners had committed no crime because they were adults in a live-in relationship with each other, regardless of whether or not a divorce petition was pending in this court.
The Court also expressed its dissatisfaction with the Allahabad High Court’s Social Fabric ruling; in which the High Court stated that a live-in relationship cannot be at the expense of the social fabric of this country and that a spouse is not entitled to protection qua a relationship with another person unless he or she obtains a divorce.
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