Adultery Laws: Is it repealed in India or not, check now

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Adultery Laws: Is it repealed in India or not, check now

Adultery Laws: Is it repealed in India or not, check now


Adultery refers to a voluntary and consented sexual relationship between a married person and someone who is not their spouse. In past times, many societies considered adultery a moral and social offence, often leading to severe consequences for those who are involved. The perspective on adultery has evolved over time, and different cultures and legal systems approach it in diverse ways.

In legal terms, adultery has been subject to varying degrees of punishment. In some jurisdictions, it has been treated as a criminal offence, while in others, it is viewed as a civil matter or grounds for divorce. The legal status of adultery can be influenced by cultural, religious, and societal norms.


Current legal status of Adultery in India

Before 2018, Adultery was a criminal offence in India. It was given in Chapter XX of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 under section 497 which read as, “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, 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.”

Punishment for Adultery – Imprisonment for a term extending to 5 Years, a fine or both.

In 2017, A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed against Adultery, which demands to strike down the entire section 497 of the Indian Penal Code. It was argued that section 497 violates Article 14 and Article 15 of the Constitution.

Article 14 – “The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.”

Article 15 – “The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them.”

On 27 September 2018, The Court accepted this petition and section 497 was struck down. However, it can be a ground for civil issues like ‘Divorce’ in India.


Why in News?

The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023 a Bill which was presented by the Home Minister of India, Amit Shah in the Parliament to replace the Indian Penal Code, 1860. Under this Bill, it is suggested that adultery should be added as a crime. However, the panel that examined the Bill suggested some changes after Bill was introduced in the Parliament. The panel suggested that Adultery should be added back as a criminal offence, but it should be made gender-neutral, that is, both men and women should be punished for Adultery. In IPC, it is of a discriminatory nature, punishing only men for Adultery and was grounds for which it has been struck down.


Case Law related to Adultery

Joseph Shine vs Union of India, 2018

In this case, the Petitioner filed a PIL (Public Interest Litigation) demanding to strike down Section 497 of IPC as it violates Article 14 and Article 15 of the Constitution. On 27 September 2018, a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court which was headed by then Chief Justice of India Dipak Mishra with current Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, Justice AM Khanwilkar, Justice RF Nariman and Justice Indu Malhotra, ordered in this case to repeal the section 497 of the Indian Penal Code that is Adultery on the grounds of violation of Article 14, Article 15 and Article 21 of the Constitution. However, it can be a ground for civil issues like ‘Divorce’.


At the end

Adultery, when discovered, can lead to strained relationships, emotional distress, and sometimes legal consequences as before the punishment was only given to men. Changing in society needs to change in laws. However, the degree of social and legal condemnation varies widely.

It’s important to note that perceptions and attitudes toward adultery can be highly subjective and may change over time. Societal views on relationships and marriage are dynamic, reflecting cultural shifts, changes in gender roles, and evolving notions of individual’s conduct towards society.



Author: Atharv Yadav


Author Since: November 22, 2023