Adultery Laws in India
Adultery is a voluntary consensual relationship between a married individual and someone who is not his/her lawful spouse. Adultery is considered as legally wrong and is a punishable offense. The act of adultery is a crime which breaches the marriage vows and is detrimental to public morals. It is regarded as illegal in some countries and certain laws have been passed to keep a check over adultery. Although adultery is not a criminal offense, it may have legal consequences and the individual concerned may be penalized and punished especially if the case is pertaining to divorce.
History: In ancient Greece and Roman world, there were harsh laws against adultery but these were applicable only if the female was married. But these laws were not relevant if a man maintained sexual relationship with a slave or an unmarried female. The Bible too forbids adultery and the seventh commandment clearly states this. In customary Judaism, both the parties were equally responsible for adultery but it applied only if the female partner was married. Lord Jesus also abhorred adultery and considered that even looking at a female lustfully is equivalent to adultery.
According to ancient Hindu laws, only the felonious female were punished and killed while the husbands were considered equal to god and were left off with warnings only.
Adultery laws: The legal definition of adultery varies from country to country. Laws related to adultery vary from statute to statute and at some places adultery is considered a crime and the adulterer may even have to face death penalty while at some places it is not punishable. In few statutes, if either individual is married to someone else, both parties to an adulterous liaison are culpable to the crime. Christian, Jewish, Islamic and Hindu traditions condemn the act of adultery and in Islam; the adulterers especially the female may be stoned to death. According to Indian jurisdiction, the adultery law comes under Section 497 of the Indian penal code. There are two laws pertaining to adultery:-
Section-497- Adultery “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.”
Section-498- Enticing or taking away or detaining with criminal intent a married woman “Whoever takes or entices any woman who is and whom he knows or has reasons to believe to be the wife of any other man, from that man, or from any person having the care of her on behalf of that man, with intent that she may have illicit intercourse with any person or conceals or detains with that intent any such woman, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both”.
Our society abominates marital infidelity and these laws have been passed to maintain and preserve the sanctity of marriage.