In this case, the petitioner was on trial for adultery under section 497 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
The cognizance of this offense was limited, i.e., adultery committed with a married woman, and the male offender alone had been made liable to the punishment. Women were treated as the property of men, and the same can be concluded from the case mentioned above.
The petitioner applied under Article 228 of the Indian constitution, arguing that this section was in contradiction with Article 14 (Right to Equality) and Article 15 of the constitution and was, therefore, ultra vires.
QUESTION OF LAW:
Whether section 497 of the Indian Penal Code violates the fundamental rights guaranteed under the articles:
14 Right to Equality in general
15 Protection against discrimination on the grounds of caste, religion, sex, race, and place of birth by any citizen
The court observed that section 497 is not ultra vires under Article 14, 15, and 21 of the constitution on the account that only the man, is held liable for adultery and the wife with whom the adultery is committed.
The Court in response said that a provision that prohibits punishment is not equivalent to a license to commit that offense of whose punishment has been prohibited.
It further said that sex is a reasonable and sound classification acknowledged by the Constitution, which provides that the state can make special provisions for women and children under Article 15(3) of the Constitution.
The two articles read together validate the questioned clause in section 497of the IPC.