A Woman in India cannot be Prosecuted for Adultery under Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code

One, Mrs.Sailaja alleged that another lady Ms.Kalyani was in illicit relationship with her husband and filed a case for Adultery under Section 497 of Indian Penal Code/IPC and of Wrongful Restraintwas in illicit under Section 341 of the Indian Penal Code/IPC.Ms.Kalyani filed a Petition in the Andhrapradesh High Court against the registration of the above cases against her in the lower court.And the Andhrapradesh High Court dismissed the petition of Ms.Kalyani.

And Ms.Kalyani made an appeal in the Supreme Court of India, against the Andhrapradesh High Court’s dismissal of her petition against filing cases against her under Sections- 497 and 341 of IPC.

And a Supreme Court Bench of Justices Aftab Alam and R.M. Lodha, in the above appeal of Ms.Kalyani said that-

Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code [which deals with adultery] is currently under criticism from certain quarters for showing a strong gender bias, for it makes the position of a married woman almost as a property of her husband.

But in terms of the law as it stands, it is evident from a plain reading of the Section that only a man can be proceeded against and punished for … adultery.

The mere fact that the appellant Ms.Kalyani is a woman makes her completely immune to the charge of adultery, and she cannot be proceeded against is evident from a plain reading of Section 497.

Indeed, the Section provides expressly that the wife cannot be punished even as an abettor and ruled that:

  • Only a man can be proceeded against and punished for adultery, but the wife cannot be, even as an abettor and
  • The High Court was in error in not allowing the quashing application filed by the appellant and

The Supreme Court of India ultimately, allowed the appeal of Ms.Kalyani quashing the charges against her.

From the Supreme Court of India’s ruling in the above case/appeal it is understood that, Mrs.Sailaja should have filed a case only against her husband under Section 497 of IPC.

This reminds me of one story/anecdote as below:

There was a man named say X, whose wife was a lady with no morals and she used to stay with any man on earth.

The husband Mr.X had been tolerating his wife’s behaviour with much difficulty.

However, Mr.X lost his patience and decided to do something to bring an end to the matter.

One day Mr.X was going to his house along with his friend Mr.Y. Mr.Y was having a licensed pistol.

When they entered the house they found that Mrs. X was in bed with another man Mr. Z.

Mr. X on seeing a third person in bed with his wife, picked up the pistol from his friend Mr. Y and shot dead his wife.

And the other man Mr.Z who was in bed fled away.

Mr.Y said:

“Hai X! I thought you would shoot the fellow who was in bed with your wife. Why did you kill your wife, man?”

And Mr.X replied, “Hai Y! I cannot go on committing murders. Now,the matter has come to an end, you see.”

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