Question: Write a detailed note on Adultery.


Note: this post is a part of our important question answer series on Criminal Law (IPC). You can read other questions by clicking here.




Adultery refers to the act of a married person engaging in sexual relations with someone who is not their spouse. In India, adultery was a criminal offense under Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) until it was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2018.


Please join our Telegram or WhatsApp group and never miss a single update.


Definition and Essentials of this offence

The offence of adultery is dealt under section 497 of IPC. It provides that:

1.       If a man has sexual intercourse with a female,

2.       who is the wife of another man or who he believes to be the wife of another man,

3.       without the consent or assistance of her husband,

4.       and the sexual intercourse is not rape, i.e., it is voluntary,

5.       then that person was guilty of the offense of adultery under section 497 of the Indian Penal Code.


Punishment for Adultery

Any person who commits the offence of adultery shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, or with fine, or with both.


Landmark Cases

Yusuf Abdul Aziz vs state of Bombay, 1954: In this case, the court held that a woman cannot be punished under this section, not even as an abettor.

Joseph Shine vs Union of India, 2019 3 SCC 39: In this case, the Supreme Court struck down the law of adultery, declaring it as unconstitutional and gender-biased. The court also struck down section 198 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which provides for the procedure to file a complaint of adultery.

The Supreme Court's decision to decriminalized this offence was based on several reasons, including:

1.       The phrase used in section 497, "without the consent or connivance of the husband," implied that women were the property of their husbands, implying ownership over their minds and bodies. If the husband gave consent, the other person engaging in sexual intercourse with his wife would not be guilty of adultery.

2.       The law of adultery does not give rights to the other wife, whose husband has done the act of adultery. She can’t prosecute her husband under section 497 of the Indian Penal Code.

3.       Section 497 was deemed a gender-biased law that restricted a woman's sexual sovereignty but not that of a man.

4.       Right to life under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution also includes one’s own way of living until it harms any other person’s life. Sexual orientation is one’s own individual choice, and it can’t be treated as a crime.

Note: For the purpose of military and other armed forces acts, this provision still applies, with the suitable modifications.


Let’s connect with the author on LinkedIn, (Opens in a new tab)


Hello readers!

Hope you are all having a good time here. We are trying our best to keep you updated with available paid internship opportunities, our thoughtfully curated  question-answer series for aspirants of judiciary as well as other competitive exams, the latest legal developments and much more like this.

But here's the thing: we can't do it alone. We need YOUR support to expand our endeavors, to create incentive based internship opportunities for our community members, to bring more eminent scholars on the board, and foster fruitful collaborations.

Here's how you can contribute:

1.       Share Your Knowledge: Publish Your Work With Us

2.       You may also support us with any amount you like, (UPI: 7297911597ss@paytm).

Thank you.

Note: the content available on this site will remain always free.


Also read:

1.       Question: Write a note on reunion of partition under Hindu Law.

2.       Question: “A contemporaneous exposition is the best and most powerful in Law.” Briefly describe this principle of Statutory Interpretation.

3.       Classification of Statute, A Detailed Study


Read important descriptive questions on Constitutional and Contract Law, Click here.


Read other Paid internship related posts, Click here.


Post a Comment