"Adultery" - No longer a crime in India

11 Oct 2018

The word “Adultery” means the voluntary sexual intercourse by a married person with a person who is not their spouse.

The Apex Court delivered the judgement on Section 497 of IPC that “Adultery” is no more criminal offence. However, Adultery remains a ground for divorce. The Court has provided the civil remedy (i.e. Divorce) if wife is involved in extramarital affairs.  

Prior to this judgement when adultery was considered as an offence, the man used to consider his wife as his property without giving scrutiny to her will and wish.Section 497 of IPC was violating the Article 14 and 21 of the Indian Constitution. The Section was providing relief to the wife on ground of victim but on the hand it was an injustice to man because when offence is committed by both, why only one should be charged with criminal offence. It was just running on society’s presumption that always man is seducer and not the woman. The fulcrum of this offence dies when consent of both parties are involved. The Court also revealed that if one partner commits suicide because of adulterous nature of another partner then the culprit will be charged to criminal offence for provoking to take such step.

There is no rationality in treating one party as victim and other as accused for the same action. The only reason for this provision is that the marriage should be saved. The sexual autonomy of women is her infringed conscientious. Ignoring her needs and treating her as a victim, the provision is penalising her right to liberty. Under this Section only husband was treated as ‘aggrieved party’without giving any opportunity to women to describe her sexual life during marriage phase either by threatening her to close her mouth on sharp edges of weapon or through any other physical or mental trauma which by this or that way gives husband exhaustive right to treat her as his property. Curtailing her sexual autonomy and hindering her choice, freedom and consent are unethical to constitutional values.  

The verdict of Apex Court to abolish Adultery as a crime is an improved step that will help in reducing domestic violence and as such it is no longer relevant in contemporary society because with the passage of time education, development in concept of similarity and socio-economic conditions, the situation has undergone a sea change.



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