Legal Article

Adultery in Indian penal laws

Shivendra Pratap Singh

Advocate

High Court Lucknow

Article | Criminal Law

Reading Time:

Published on: 28 Jan, 2023

Adultery is not a criminal offense in India, it is considered as a civil wrong. The Indian Penal Code (IPC) does not criminalize adultery, however Section 497 of the IPC criminalizes the act of a man having sexual intercourse with the wife of another man without the latter’s consent. This section has been criticized for being discriminatory against women, as it does not consider the agency of a woman in the act of adultery and holds only the man liable for the offense.

In 2018, the Supreme Court of India struck down Section 497 of the IPC as unconstitutional, stating that it was discriminatory and violative of the right to equality and dignity of women. The court held that the provision was violative of Article 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution of India. The court held that it was not necessary to retain the provision in law, as it served no purpose and was only used to harass and punish individuals.

It’s also worth noting that some state laws have different provisions for adultery, such as, Muslim personal law also considers Adultery as a criminal offence.

It’s important to remember that although Adultery is not a criminal offence in India, it can be considered as a ground for divorce and it can also have an impact on child custody, alimony, and property settlement in a divorce case.

Section 497 of the IPC as unconstitutional

the Supreme Court of India struck down Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) as unconstitutional. The court held that the provision was discriminatory against women and violative of the right to equality and dignity of women. The court noted that the provision did not consider the agency of a woman in the act of adultery and held only the man liable for the offense, which is violative of Article 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution of India.

Section 497 of the IPC criminalized the act of a man having sexual intercourse with the wife of another man without the latter’s consent. However, with the striking down of this provision, adultery is no longer a criminal offense in India and is considered as a civil wrong.

The court also noted that the provision had become redundant and served no purpose, and was only used to harass and punish individuals. The court held that it was not necessary to retain the provision in law as it served no purpose and was only used to harass and punish individuals.

It’s also worth noting that some state laws have different provisions for adultery, such as, Muslim personal law also considers Adultery as a criminal offence.