Ghost of 497IPC


Recently Gujarat high court has reinstated a police constable to his service who lost his job over adultery and has outlined that Individual’s Personal choices professional career.

What has been high court’s observation in the case?

The court noted that the constable’s superiors or society may view the relationship from the prism of immorality but there was no ground to invoke disciplinary provisions related to “misconduct” under the relevant statutory rules.

What has been the recent developments in the matter?

Supreme Court in 2018 striked down adultery as a penal offence (Section 497 IPC) in 2018 and recognised fundamental right to privacy in 2017. HCs have in the past also ruled against authorities pursuing disciplinary proceedings for adultery, noting that misconduct requires proof of adverse effect on an officer’s public duties.

What is the way forward?

However, despite these developments courts are sometimes themselves prone to social morality. 2021 witnessed a few orders by various HCs levying monetary penalties or passing harsh observations in such cases.

As the SC’s ruling has reiterated the equality before law of all consenting adults this divergence in the orders of various courts should stop.

For this Service rules across India need to be updated to restrict the scope for loosely applying misconduct provisions.

Source– This post is based on the article “Ghost of 497IPC” published in Times of India on 17th Feb 2022.

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