Can a married woman be punished for the offence of adultry? SC decided to examine the plea which challenged the section 497 of IPC and 198 (2) of CrPC as archaic. Presently only man is punished under the law but not woman which is violative of gender equality .

Adultery is the consensual or voluntary sexual relationship of a married man with someone other than his wife and a woman with someone other than her husband. Although, the legal definition of adultery and laws pertaining to adultery varies from country to country, the basic essence remains the same. It points to an illicit and illegal correlation which breaches the marriage vows and affects the sanctity of marital relations. Laws against adultery are likely outcome of regulation and ethnicity claiming that marriages must be monogamous. Adultery law falls under the criminal law of India and has been put under chapter XX that deals with the offences concerning marriage.

According to Section-497 of Indian penal code- “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.”

5 replies
December 8, 2017


  1. All adults in a committed relationship must have some accountability , laws are a different thing altogether

  2. Law against adultery must be abolished. There are more serious things to be attended to. Having too many laws hinders with their enforcement.

  3. I am a bit confused as to why it has to be termed as “criminal”. I mean there are worse crimes than sharing a bed with someone, right?