A general view of the Supreme court of India is pictured in New Delhi, Sept. 27, 2018.
A general view of the Supreme court of India is pictured in New Delhi, Sept. 27, 2018.

Adultery is no longer a crime in India because of a ruling Thursday by country's highest court.

Under the British colonial-era law, a man who had sex with a married woman without her husband's blessing could be charged, convicted and sentenced to up to five years in prison.

The law gave the husband the right to bring charges against his wife's lover but failed to grant a wife power to do the same.

There are no data on how many men have been prosecuted under the law.

The Indian Supreme Court on Thursday struck it down. "It's time to say that [a] husband is not the master of [his] wife," Chief Justice Dipak Misra said as he read the judgment. "Legal sovereignty of one sex over the other sex is wrong."

Businessman Joseph Shine challenged the court to strike down the law, arguing it was discriminatory against women and arbitrary.

In its ruling, the court said an extramarital affair was a private matter between adults and is still a valid reason for divorce.

This was the second colonial-era law dealing with sexual rights to be struck down by India's top court this month. In another unanimous decision, the court overturned a law criminalizing consensual gay sex.

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