top of page


Introduction ;

Adultery is extramarital sex that is seen as hostile on friendly, exacting, moral, or genuine grounds. Notwithstanding the way that the sexual activities that set up adultery shift, similarly as the social, severe, and legal outcomes, the thought exists in various social orders and is practically identical in Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.

Adultery is an assault on the advantage of the life partner over his better half. It is an offense against the sacredness of the wedlock and, an exhibit, which is done by a man. It is an aloof and unlawful demonstration. The Apex Court as of late pondered that it can't be said that in deciphering the offense of adultery, any consecrated course of action is encroached by controlling the class of scoundrel to men so to speak.

Section 497 of Indian Penal Code provides the law relating to adultery.

It reads as follows :

Adultery - 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 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.

This is an offence against marriage. Adultery is an offence committed by a third person against a husband in respect of his wife.

A married man having sexual intercourse with

(a) An unmarried woman, or

(b) With a widow, or

(c) A married woman whose husband consents to it, or

(d) With a divorced woman,

Commits no offence under this section

History of section 497;.

The old Hindu law books mirror the unfair methodology and sexual orientation predisposition. They censured double-crossing connections and the individuals who enjoyed it, however the disciplines were especially unforgiving if there should arise an occurrence of ladies. Since the virtue of the station and family were essential to the assurance of Dharma, adultery was viewed as a possible danger to the request and routineness of society just as to the conservation of the family name and the social request.

Section 13 (1) (i) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 describes adultery as “Any marriage solemnised, whether before or after the commencement of this Act, may, on a petition presented by either the husband or the wife, be dissolved by a decree of divorce on the ground that the other party has, after the solemnisation of the marriage, had voluntary sexual intercourse with any person other than his or her spouse

In Judaism, which again is an antiquated religion, the Ten Commandments conveyed by the Lord to Moses on Mount Sinai contains the Seventh Commandment-thou shalt not submit adultery-set out in the book of Exodus in the Old Testament.

In Christianity, we discover adultery being denounced as unethical and a transgression for the two people, as is proven by St. Paul's to the Corinthians.

In India, as well, Manusmriti given to discipline for those dependent on intercourse with other men's spouses by discipline which cause fear, trailed by expulsion.

The Dharmasutras talk with various voices. In the Apastamba Dharmasutra, adultery is culpable as a wrongdoing, the discipline contingent on the class or rank of the man and lady.

Landmark cases relating to adultery challenged before the court.

Yusuf Aziz v/s State of Bombay:

The adultery law first came under challenge in 1951 in this case. Petitioner contended that the adultery law violated the fundamental right of equality guaranteed under Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution.

Three years later in 1954, the Supreme Court ruled that Section is commonly accepted that it is the man who is the seducer, and not the woman. The Court stated that women could only be a victim of adultery and not a perpetrator of the crime under Section 497.

Sowmithri Vishnu v/s Union of India

The Supreme Court held that the section is not discriminatory between man and woman, i.e. an under inclusive definition is not necessarily discriminatory. It does not offend either Article 14 or 15 of the Constitution.

The Court held that men were not allowed to prosecute their wives for the offence of adultery in order to protect the sanctity of marriage. For the same reason, women could not be allowed to prosecute their husbands.

V.Revathi V/S Union Of India

The Supreme Court held that not including women in prosecution of adultery cases promoted social good. It offered the couple a chance to make up and keep the sanctity of marriage intact. The Supreme Court observed that adultery law was a shield rather than a sword.

Additionally, these above decisions, there were two more significant perspectives regarding adultery law.

The Law Commission of India Report of 1971 (42nd report) and the Malimath Committee on Criminal Reforms of 2013 prescribed alteration to the adultery law. Both contended to make Section 497 of the IPC impartial.

The offense of adultery reflects segregation. It rests in bigger part on the possibility that a lady is the property of the male. An examination of Section 497 alongside different perceptions by the Supreme Court and High Courts, carry us to the determination that lone a man can submit adultery. The wedded lady who is associated with the direct isn't culpable as the adulteress, since she is treated as a casualty, not as the creator of the wrongdoing, since she has no element and she is a non-individual. The segment discredits the choice of the lady in two-faced lead and doesn't fret about the goals behind her demonstration. This is likely on the grounds that the lady is peered downward on as an item, as a lifeless property, whose rights are practically adaptable.

The Case In Which Supreme Court Struck Down The Law Relating To Adultery;

Joseph Shine V/S Union Of India (2017)

n December 2017, Joseph Shine recorded a request testing the legitimacy of Section 497 conceding that the law appear to be bygone. While hearing the matter already, the Court had seen that the law appeared to be founded on certain cultural assumptions. In four discrete and agreeing decisions, the Court struck down the law and announced that the spouse isn't the expert of his better half. In any case, adultery actually stays a common offense. It very well may be a ground for separate. The judgment straightforwardly blows the obsolete and male centric law in our country.

Section 497 of Indian Penal Code recently rebuffed adultery making it a criminal wrong. Notwithstanding, the administrative aim behind the sanctioning of Section 497 of IPC is very unique in relation to the one which is seen by the pundits. The Law Commission of India was given the duty of redrafting the Penal Code in 1847. At the hour of redrafting the corrective code, the commission delivered just men responsible for the offense of adultery and this was finished remembering the situation of ladies by then of time and obligation was projected on the law to ensure the interest of ladies. The pundits then again, contend that 497 of IPC attempts to direct and mediate in the existences of two consenting grown-ups and it will in general neglect or administer the reality of how adultery wrecks the existence of others. Individuals voicing their assessment on the side of decriminalizing adultery in India are the ones who characterize ethical quality ought to be founded on people impulses and likes.

Critics who favour positive consequences of legalising Adultery

Critics voicing their opinion in favour of legalising adultery put forth the view that adultery was rightly decriminalised as it was not gender neutral. If two persons want to get into consensual sex, it is no one’s concern to stop them from doing so.

How the society perceives this and how correct is this in a moral sense should be outside the purview of this law. In the eyes of law, it should just be two adults who had consensual sexual intercourse. Further, there should be no confusion between personal laws and community laws, because when it comes to legalising community laws they are done so considering the moral fabric of the society and the same is not true for personal laws.

In the 1950-55 when the Hindu Code bills and the Dowry Prohibition Acts(1961) were passed, the popular sentiment was that men are the ones who commit wrong and hence, there is a need to give a special layer of protection for women’s condition as they were in a vulnerable condition in the society at that time. But now women are literate, independent, aware of their rights, and hence, there is no need for such a law in the present scenario.

Critics who favour negative consequences of legalising Adultery

To keep a smooth working of the general public, there are not many things which are important and marriage is one among them. It is a lot of fundamental for society since it gives people in the future a steady and caring climate. Adultery compromises as well as annihilates such a climate.

Legitimizing adultery can be viewed as something that is affected by the western civilisation, and here a significant highlight be observed is that the separation rate in the western nations is 52% and still on an ascent. To prevent India from following a similar design it is fundamental not to empower extra-conjugal undertakings which would be on an ascent if adultery is decriminalized.

Rights of the parties included and a similar nation can't get rid of the wrongdoing which sabotages such a foundation. The goal behind condemning adultery is to prevent the miscreant. One may contend that the law has neglected to forestall the demonstration of adultery, however while advancing such a contention it ought to be remembered that such disappointment can't be appropriated to the actual law yet to the authorization of the law. Likewise, in a government assistance situated and comprehensive nation like India, it turns out to be vital to deflect a philanderer in light of the fact that while requesting the marriage be enlisted to recognize and secure them.

Where else is Adultery a criminal offence?

Adultery is viewed as unlawful in 21 American states including New York. While the study shows that the vast majority of the Americans dislike adultery and don't think about it as a wrongdoing.

Adultery is precluded in Sharia or Islamic law, and consequently, it is viewed as a criminal offense in Islamic nations like that of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Somalia.

Taiwan perceives adultery as a wrongdoing and forces a discipline of as long as 1-year detainment. Indeed, even in Indonesia adultery is viewed as a wrongdoing and truth be told, Indonesia is drafting laws which forbid all consensual sex outside the establishment of marriage.

In 2015, South Korea struck down a law on adultery, which was like that of the adultery law in India, where it rebuffed a man with detainment for a very long time or less for the offense of adultery. The court additionally set out that the purpose for striking down adultery law was on the grounds that it abused self-assurance and security.

In excess of 60 nations on the planet have discarded the laws of adultery as indicated by the Indian attorney Kaleeswaram Raj. In UK adultery is certainly not a criminal offense like numerous different nations, and courts have additionally felt free to set out that adultery can't be utilized as a ground for separate in the event that they have lived respectively as a team for over a half year after the betrayal was known.


In the current scenario, adultery is no more an offence.

The provision was unconstitutional. It violated article 14, 15 and 21 of the constitution. Talking specifically of equality, we cannot hold that the provision discriminated against a particular gender.

At times, it saved the women from the offence by concluding that a woman can only be a victim in such cases. And other times it restricted woman to file a complaint against her husband in case he had an adulterous relationship.

At times, it held only the man liable for seducing another woman even if the lady was equally in fault, and sometimes it gave only the man the right to complaint.

However, the provision was gender biased.

I agree with the decision of Honourable Supreme Court for striking down adultery but there are some sides of the decriminalisation which has to be taken care of.

Though decriminalising adultery does not give a licence to people to have extra marital affairs, but also there is no fear of restriction in people’s mind.

What about the children who are going to be affected because of adulterous relationship of their parent(s)?

What about children being born out of such relationship?

What about the parents and family?

Though physicality is a personal choice and state should not interfere, but what about the spouse who is being affected?

Decriminalising adultery is a great decision but how could the state hold a person not guilty because of whom someone is going through mental trauma and families being badly affected.

I do not say that the provision should be criminalized but certain aspects should not be taken for granted.

Written by-Ipsita Lenka

12 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

I. BACKGROUND The advancement of internet trend has caused a shift in the business sector. Many business organisations have migrated to the internet realm of marketing and commerce, inc

Introduction Black’s law dictionary defines Double Jeopardy as: – A second prosecution after a first trial for the same offense. In India, protection against double jeopardy could be an elementary rig

bottom of page