Adultery and Divorce: Can adultery affect the outcome of a divorce case?

Adultery is defined as the voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and someone who is not the person’s current spouse or partner. Adultery is considered to be synonymous to cheating and it is immoral in nature. Speaking historically, several cultures used to consider adultery as a very serious crime in nature. However, the activities that may constitute adultery can vary in nature and respect. There are several social, cultural and emotional impacts of committing adultery and the legal consequences might also vary with respect to different nations and cultures. In order to constitute the commission of adultery, even a single act is enough. Speaking of the legal consequences, there are countries that have decriminalised adultery but there could be legal consequences to the act of adultery in such countries. The international organisations have spoken of decriminalisation of adultery all across, especially after the high profile cases. Eminent personalities have also quoted that criminalisation of adultery is against women’s human rights.

There are several punishments issued by different nations and they vary from rigorous to preventive in nature. Especially when we speak of the Muslim laws in which punishments like stoning are justified for the commission of adultery which is considered to be a crime on moral and ethical grounds. As per the facts, nations that follow sharia laws, there are seen many varied ranges of punishment right starting from penalties, to stoning, and sometimes torture. In India, section 497 of IPC that had criminalised adultery, was defunct on 27th September 2018 by a judgement of Hon’ble supreme court of India. The law was defunct on humanitarian grounds and by keeping in mind the status of women in mind and their rights in general.

Facts of the case

In a case related to adultery, the husband filed a petition for divorce on grounds of adultery. As per the facts, the wife started working again after her first child. The husband started suspecting her conduct and that she was infidel in the marriage. The husband even said that when he asked his wife about her adulterous acts, she agreed upon them and even begged to be pardoned. However, the respondent denied any of these things. In the case, the husband wanted to seek a mutual divorce but respondent wasn’t willing to do the same. Rather, she filed a written statement in which she denied all the facts and circumstances. She even attributed to the lack of mental equilibrium of her husband and that the allegations made by him were all baseless.

There were further amendments to the petition by husband and he alleged the new ground of divorce on mental cruelty. After the arguments put forth by petitioner and respondent, the Hon’ble Supreme Court was of the opinion that the respondent wife in her pleading alleged that the petitioner is a mental patient but these assertions by her constitute mental torture and cruelty being inflicted on him and that is of such a nature that he cannot reasonably be asked to live with her thereafter. There were many other contentions established by the Hon’ble supreme court in this matter and the very petition for divorce was allowed.


The marriage between the parties was dissolved thereon, by the Hon’ble Supreme Court. However, the allegations made by the petitioner against his wife were not held proved by the  Supreme Court. In the court’s opinion, the very honour of his wife stands absolved and clear. There weren’t such factual availabilities that could establish such things against her and other related allegations for that matter. As per the court, there shall be no order as to the costs and values thereupon.