Joseph Shine v Union of India: Farewell to a Victorian-Era Adultery Law

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Rathivaani Sathiaseelan
Anusha Aurasu


This case commentary critically analyses the rationale behind the decision made by the Indian Supreme Court in the case of Joseph Shine v Union of India [2018] Indlaw 899 (SC). The constitutionality of section 497 of the Indian Penal Code and section 198(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which criminalise adultery, was challenged in this case. Being well aware that this case was a call made due to societal changes, the Supreme Court was prepared to adopt a liberal interpretation of the Indian Constitution. However, it had to face the sea of precedents flowing in the opposite direction of the societal changes. The Supreme Court, in dealing with these archaic provisions had carefully scrutinized Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Indian Constitution to declare that the impugned provisions have long outlived their purpose and do not fit within today’s constitutional morality. This case is definitely one of the significant decisions made in the history of Indian law as it portrayed the Supreme Court’s bold move in finally bidding farewell to a Victorian-era law. As a result, adultery is no longer a crime in today’s India and this decision is the reason behind it.

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How to Cite
Sathiaseelan, R., & Aurasu, A. (2023). Joseph Shine v Union of India: Farewell to a Victorian-Era Adultery Law. Asian Journal of Law and Policy, 3(1), 39–47.
Case Commentaries