Offences relating to Marriage under Law of Crimes

Marriage is a sacred activity which is considered as a union of two souls into one. Husband and wife promise each other to support even seven births. A girl used to leave her house for her husband  to commence a new life with the  in – laws also. Even she considered her husband as her own god and used to do his worship as same. When both husband and wife are going to start new lives, rights and obligations arise on their parts towards their families, children and so on but when these obligations are not fulfilled either by the husband or the wife may lead to occurrence of differences between husband and wife and sometimes with the in-laws also. Differences might convert into something more big leading to divorce of the husband and wife. To protect these things provisions have been provided by the legislature under the Indian Penal Code. Offences concerning marriage are enumerated in Section 493 to Section 498 of the IPC, 1860.

This law distributes several facets of a marriage under their following crimes :-

  1. Invalid marriage [ Section 493 ]
  2. Bigamy [ Section 494 ]
  3. Adultery [ Section 497 ]
  4. Seduction [ Section 498 ]
  5. Cruelty [ Section 498 A ]

Section 493-Cohabitation after Deceitfully inducing a belief of Marriage

Every man who by deceit causes any woman who is not lawfully married to him to cohabit or have sexual intercourse with him in the belief that she is lawfully married to him shall be punished.  For this scenario, IPC provides a 10 year imprisonment with fine as a punishment.


  1. A person practised duplicity or fraud.
  2. Falsely convincing her to believe that he is her lawful husband.
  3. Sexual intercourse takes place as a result of fraud.

Section 494- Marrying again during lifetime of Husband or Wife

When any husband or wife marries to any other person in any case during the life of such husband or wife, this marriage is void and punishment shall be imprisonment of seven years and also be liable to fine.


  1. first marriage has been declared void by a court holding competent jurisdiction.
  2. If the former husband and wife at the time of succeeding marriage has been absent continuously for a term of  7 years and do not  hear that such person as being alive within prescribed time.


The rationale behind enacting this section 494 is to give punishment to a person in matters regarding marriage, when spouse proceeds second marriage during the existence of first.[1]


  1. First marriage must be valid.
  2. Succeeding marriage must take place.
  3. Both husband and wife must be living.
  4. The first marriage must survive.

Section 496-Adultery

Adultery was an offence committed by a person to involve in sexual intercourse with the wife of another person without that person’s consent or connivance. It was a punishable offence under IPC, imprisonment for which was for 5 years or with fine. Act under this section is no longer an offence but is still a valid ground for divorce.


This section was incorporated to protect the rights of the husband as well as wife also. Because marriage is a religious activity.


  1. Sexual intercourse must be there,
  2. Women must be married,
  3. Reasonable beliefs and knowledge must be there that she is the wife of other person,
  4. Consent of the husband must be involved.

Adultery is considered as the anti-social activity in a civilised society. This act is not considered as an offence by a man who has sexual intercourse with an unmarried woman, prostitute or a widow and even a husband gives consent or connivance to his wife to involve in sexual intercourse with another man.

The framers of this section completely focussed on making a man guilty and giving protection to a woman even if the wife was also involved in such kind of activity i.e. actively participating to incorporate an offence.

It is extremely difficult to find direct evidence of adultery. Consent of both the people are required to fulfill this act.

Section 497 of IPC read with the Section of 32 of Indian Divorce Act 1869:-

In section 497 of IPC laid down that the wife would not be guilty of adultery even if she acts as an abettor. And even husbands give consent or connivance to their wife. It shows the limited interpretation of section 497 of IPC. But Section 32 of the Indian Divorce Act, 1869 says that a husband may also ask for the judicial separation on grounds of adultery from his wife.

Section 498-Enticing a married women for illegal Sexual Relations

A person who conceals or detains a woman or takes away or entices away any woman he knows or has reason to believe her to be the wife of some other man, from that man or from a person having care of her on behalf of that man as her husband, with intent of having illicit intercourse with any person, shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to 2 years with fine or both.


The intention behind to incorporate this section to protect the rights of the husband and not wife as given under section 497 of IPC.


  1. Taking away a wife.
  2. Knowledge
  3. Reason to believe
  4. Illicit intercourse with any other person.

Section 498 A – Cruelty

When a husband or the relative of a husband do any harmful act which is subject to cruelty, it shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term of three years and fine.

Cruelty means

  • Any wilful conduct by which a women likely to commit suicide, causing grevious hurt or severe bodily injury and mental and physical torture.
  • Unlawful demands by husband related  to property, valuable things as a part of dowry as if she fails to do the same then harassment of women take place.


 To protect the innocent women from cruelty and harassment. Unfortunately extremely shocking incidents are committed in the name of dowry.


  1. Women must be married.
  2. Cruelty or harassment must be subjected to her.
  3. Cruelty or harassment must be shown by her husband or relatives of her husband must be involved.

 The Constitution guarantees justices i.e. social, economic and political to the people of India. It also provides freedom of equality and dignity.

Landmark Judgments

1-Patil Paresh Kumar jayanti v. State of Gujarat –

In this case, evidence disclosed that the husband killed his wife for the demand of the dowry when it was not fulfilled by her but there is no record found of involvement of a co- accused. Co-accused would not be liable under section 304B.[2]

2-Sarla Prabhakar Waghmara (Smt.) v. State of Maharashtra & ors.

In this case it was held that it is necessary that beating and harassment of wife takes place and force his wife to commit suicide for the illegal demand in concern of the dowry and that must be shown in laws.[3]

3-Ganesh Prasad v. Tulsi Ram

If any person holds on to the wife of another person and gives protection in his own house then it would be covered under section 498A of IPC.[4]

4-Kanan v. Selvamuthu Kani

In this case husband & wife took divorce by mutual consent but the wife appealed against the decree of divorce. The court set aside the decree of divorce. Husband contracted for the second marriage but he did not know about the setting aside of the decree which happened one month ago of his second marriage. The court held that it will not come under the ambit of 494 of IPC.[5]


  1. Bring uniformity in laws related to the marriage.
  2. Many campaigns should be organised by the NGOs and government also.
  3. Severe laws must be implemented by the Government.
  4. To maintain the right of a second wife who has duped in a second marriage.
  5. Lady police officers should be appointed by the government to hear the victims.


Directive principles are enumerated in the Constitution of India for the establishment of laws which provide protection to women. Many protecting laws are also provided by the legislature to ensure the protection of women after the marriage. As beating, harassment, misleading her wife to involve in sexual activities, adultery and cruelty, etc., are done by the husband to his wife in cases.

Literally, women do not want to be involved in litigation because it takes an ample time  and as well as is  expensive. This shows the inability of the laws to provide protection to the married women. On the other hand technicalities of law are composite in nature which is not easy to construe and women do not know about these laws due to illiteracy and the lack of knowledge. Sometimes due to the conservative nature of the society including the judiciary, the situation becomes very frustrating and difficult to handle for a woman that she thinks several times before approaching the courts. Society talks about equality between males and females but in reality this seems it’s only for name sake in a large part of the society. Therefore, the above mentioned provisions are still important for the marriages and people associated with it.


[1] Ratanlal & Dhirajlal Law of Crimes, 2423, vol II 25th edn., 2006.

[2] 2000 CriLJ 223.

[3] 1990 CriLIJ 407 (Bom).

[4] AIR 1933 Oudh 256.

[5] 2012(4) RCR (Criminal) 331 (SC)


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