Revathi v. Union of India & Ors

Revathi v. Union of India & Ors

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 25/02/1988

COURT: Supreme Court of India

JUDGES: Thakkar, M.P. and Dutt M.M.



Petitioner: V. Revathi

Respondent: Union of India

SUBJECT: The judgment revolves the question of whether clauses 1 and 2 to section 198 of CrPC stands constitutionally valid?

FACTS: The petitioner challenged the validity of clauses 1 and 2 to section 198 CrPC as it permitted only the aggrieved husband to sue the adulterer. The aggrieved wife can neither sue her disloyal husband nor the adulteress. Neither can the aggrieved husband sue his disloyal wife. In simple words woman can neither sue nor be sued in the offence of adultery. The judgment came back in 1988 when adultery was a crime under section 497 IPC.


The Indian Constitution:

  • Article 32: Remedies for enforcement of rights conferred by Part III
  • The right to move the Supreme Court by appropriate proceedings for the enforcement of the rights conferred by this Part is guaranteed
  • The Supreme Court shall have power to issue directions or orders or writs, including writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto and certiorari, whichever may be appropriate, for the enforcement of any of the rights conferred by Part III
  • Article 14: The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.

The Indian Penal Code:

  • Section 497: Whoever has sexual intercourse with a person who is and whom he knows or has reason to believe to be the wife of another man, without the consent or connivance of that man, such sexual intercourse not amounting to the offence of rape, is guilty of the offence of adultery and shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, or with fine, or with both. In such case the wife shall not be punishable as an abettor.

1. Whether clauses 1 and 2 to section 198 of CrPC stands constitutionally valid?


The petitioner contended that, the provision was unconstitutional on the ground that it manifestly discriminates on the basis of sex.

However, the respondents contended that, as per section 497 IPC only men can commit the offence of adultery therefore punishment should also be granted only to men and not women.

Upon hearing the parties, the Court held that, the intent behind such provisions is only to promote “social good” in a matrimonial tie. Instead of suing each other on the grounds of adultery the couple can either break the matrimonial tie forever or forget and forgive the act. Further considering the plight of children born out of the wedlock adultery should remain the way as it is under section 497 IPC. If not the feeling that either of the parent being jailed by the other might leave a serious impact in the mental health of the children.

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