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STATUS OF ADULTERY IN INDIA [Explained]

Updated: Aug 27, 2019


The act of Voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and another person who is not their married spouse is known as adultery, defined under section 497 of Indian Penal Code,1860.


Section 497 states, "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."


Adultery In India

In December 2017, The Supreme Court Of India decided to accept the public interest litigation in which it has been prayed that the Court strikes down or completely does away with Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code entirely.

It has been argued that the section violates two articles of the Constitution of India- Article 14 and Article 15.

  • Article 14 states about - Equality before law - The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.

  • Article 15 talks about Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.

  1. The Problem in the section 497 was that it treated woman as the victim of the offense and as property of her husband and it was not an offence if the man had sexual intercourse with a woman after getting her husband's consent.

  2. But after the judgement delivered by the court in the writ petition of Joseph Shine vs Union of India on 27th September, 2018, it was determined that adultery can be a ground of divorce but its not a criminal offence anymore.

  3. Though, if a person commits a suicide because of partner's act of adultery then it could be treated as abetment to suicide which is a crime.

*Click here To read the Full Judgement from the Official Website of The Supreme Court Of India.

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