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India’s Top Court: Adultery No Longer Criminal Offense

Television journalists are seen outside the Supreme Court building in New Delhi, India, August 22, 2017.

India’s Chief Justice of the Supreme Court has presided over a string of verdicts in recent weeks that grant more rights to women, gay couples and religious minorities as he prepares to retire from the bench next month.

Legal experts say that the rapid-fire judgments have the potential to upturn traditions in deeply conservative Indian society.

On Thursday, Chief Justice Dipak Misra and the rest of the court struck down a 158-year-old law that held adultery as a criminal offense punishable by up to five years in prison, calling it unconstitutional and saying that “husband is not the master of woman.”

Misra also led the bench in September to strike down a colonial-era law that made gay sex punishable by up to 10 years in prison.