The word “adultery” derives its origin from the French word “avoutre”, which has evolved from the Latin verb “adulterium” which means “to corrupt”. The dictionary meaning of adultery is when a married man has sexual intercourse with a woman with whom he has not entered into wedlock. Adultery means having voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and a person who is not their spouse, it is considered objectionable on social, religious, moral, or legal grounds. This concept has different perspectives in different nations, some places where it is a crime, whereas in some places they act as a ground for divorce. Some may think that there is nothing wrong in doing it as they may have the opinion that the sanctity in their marriage is already lost, hence they wouldn’t bind by it, but on the other hand there are many out there who value the vows of marriage and fully respect it by following it. In this case men and women are equally wrong for this but there have been some cases especially in that of India where the man was charged for adultery as the wife was considered as a property of the man, but things have changed and this situation has also changed in India, but in some places adultery is still considered not an offence, the degree of treating this as an offence varies from state to state, and culture to culture. It is also considered that adultery violates women’s right on an international level i.e. violating the human rights, but when we see it from a worldwide angle it is clearly indicating that very few nations continue to treat adultery as a crime, while most nations consider it to be a grounds for divorce.
Now let’s look at adultery form India’s perspective , the sections 497 IPC and 198(2) CrPC deal with the procedure for filing a complaint in relation to the offence of adultery and the punishment for the offence, S.497 defines adultery as “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 (2) For the purposes of sub-section (1), no person other than the
husband of the woman shall be deemed to be aggrieved by any offence punishable under S.497 or S. 498 of IPC (Indian Penal Code, 1860) They have been regarded as violative of Articles 14, 15(1) and 21 (since sexual privacy is important and it comes within “righ to privacy”’) of the Constitution, and are therefore struck down as being invalid, through the Joseph Shine v. Union of India case . It violates Art 14 of the constitution as it deprives women of the right to prosecute an adulterous husband. Section 497 IPC does not bring within its purview an extra marital relationship with an unmarried woman, a widow or a divorced woman, and the purpose why this section 497 was framed in history does no longer apply in the present- day modern society. This provision was challenged before this Hon’ble Court on three occasions, firstly in Yusuf Abdul Aziz v. State of Bombay and Another , secondly in Sowmithri Vishnu v. Union of India and finally, in V. Revathi v. Union of India. However in all the three occasions adultery was till considered a crime and the court justified it by giving various reasons. These were very significant cases where efforts were put to decriminalise adultery, this issue has existed since a long time but only after 70 years of fighting the result has been attained. Therefore, in India there was indirect discrimination as men and women were not considered equal in the case of adultery and onlt the man was considered to be the offender.
Therefore by the above sections and cases we can come to a conclusion they treat the husband as the person aggrieved and never considers the wife as the adulterer, they are considered as the property of the husband, hence they were charged for adultery. This more likely acts as a indirect discrimination against women, as they aren’t equally treated even in a crime put them in an advantaged position. Discrimination means not treating them equally, and hence the rights of women are being violated in regards with adultery, not only that but there are no provisions where the women can file a case against the husband who has committed adultery, but nothing of such sort for a man, but things have changed and a series of cases brought up this issue and finally decriminalisation of adultery has been done, but is still acts as a ground for divorce, the only change brought was that from now on men will not be punished or charged for adultery.