ADULTERY under Indian Penal Code

Criminal Law Indian Penal Code LAW EXPLAINED
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On 27 September, 2018 the Supreme Court of India had announced it’s another major verdict by decriminalising adultery aimed at upholding the right of life and freedom just a few days after the judgement on Section-377. The judgement was given by 5 judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Mishra where he said that “Adultery is no longer a crime but it is ground for divorce or judicial separation.” This judgement quashed the previous three judgement of the Supreme Court on adultery where the court supported adultery.

Adultery is defined in IPC section-497 which states that “If a married man has sexual intercourse with the wife of another man with the consent of woman then the aggrieved man has a right to sue the man.” The concept of adultery was taken from British law which is based on the idea of Victorian morality saying that this law was used to maintain the sanctity of the marriage.

But does this law was helping the society? Just after the judgement was passed many local newspapers were saying that the Supreme Court itself was promoting the adultery by decriminalising it. But that not true, with the passing of time society is continuously changing and that’s why the lawmakers from time to time have to change laws so that society can evolve properly and there is no-one left out. In this particular section of society i.e. women was treated as a property of man where if someone touches his wife then that man can file a case against the other man just like he is claiming for the damages from the other man and on the other hand the wife was not having any such right where she can sue the other woman which is directly showing that this law was creating discrimination between a man and women thus violating the fundamental right of our Indian Constitution i.e. Right to equality.

This adultery section was read along with Section-198(2) of Crpc which says that no person other the husband of the woman shall be deemed to aggrieved by any offence punishable under Section-497 and Section-498 of the code: Which says that Provided that if in the absence of the husband if some other person was taking care of the wife, then that person has a right to make a complaint to court on his behalf.

Now the question arises whether this right or not? Now some other person also was having the right to sue another man. Was this justice for women of our society i.e. being treated like an object? Moreover, this practice was being used by the husband in order to threaten their wives and defame them in the society or sometimes in rivalry people were using this law for their benefit. But in this also nobody thought for women.

To remove this practice of injustice the Supreme Court was having two choices:

  1. Either the Court also gives this power of suing the other women if the husband commits adultery
  2. Or just decriminalise adultery.

The Supreme Court then opted for the second choice and then decriminalised adultery, saying that adultery is no longer a crime but that doesn’t give a man permission to have relations with the other woman outside his marriage.

If either of the persons is not happy with their they can leave that marriage but they don’t have any right to cheat the other person, one should always know their limits.  In every religion, marriage is given very much importance and considered as divine.  Marriage is a sacrament and it should be respected by both man and woman so if anyone tries to harm the sacrament of the marriage by doing adultery then this can be used as a ground for divorce.

This blog is written by Pragya Sharma, Amity University.

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