Unraveling the Secrets of Extramarital Affairs and its Legality

Posted On : October 28, 2023
Unraveling the Secrets of Extramarital Affairs and its Legality
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In India, the legality of extramarital affairs is a complex and sensitive issue that involves a combination of social, cultural, and legal factors. It's important to note that Indian law primarily focuses on regulating marriages and family matters, rather than directly addressing extramarital affairs as a specific legal offense. Here are some key points to consider regarding the legality of extramarital affairs in India:

No Specific Law Against Extramarital Affairs

India does not have a specific law that criminalizes extramarital affairs or treats them as a separate offense. Unlike some countries where adultery is considered a criminal act, Indian law does not punish individuals for engaging in extramarital relationships per se.

Legal Consequences in Specific Situations

While extramarital affairs are not illegal in themselves, they can have legal consequences in certain situations. For example:

  • Grounds for Divorce

    In divorce cases, adultery can be cited as one of the grounds for seeking a divorce under the Hindu Marriage Act, the Special Marriage Act, or the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act. Adultery may be considered as a reason for the breakdown of the marital relationship.

  • Maintenance and Alimony

    During divorce proceedings, the court may take into account a spouse's extramarital affair when determining issues related to maintenance and alimony. Adultery may affect the division of assets and financial support obligations.

  • Child Custody

    The conduct of parents, including engaging in extramarital affairs, can be considered when deciding child custody matters. Courts aim to protect the best interests of the child when making such determinations.

  • Social and Cultural Stigma

    While extramarital affairs may not be illegal, they are often viewed negatively in Indian society. They can lead to significant social and familial consequences, including damage to one's reputation and relationships.

  • Privacy Rights

    India recognizes the right to privacy as a fundamental right under the Constitution. This includes the right to one's personal relationships and choices, including matters related to one's romantic or sexual life. As such, the state generally does not interfere in the private affairs of consenting adults.

Leading Case Laws Related to Extra Marital Affair

In India, there have been several notable legal cases related to extramarital affairs, especially in the context of divorce and matrimonial disputes. Here are a few case laws that have set precedents in this area:

  1. V. Bhagat vs. D. Bhagat (1987)

    In this landmark case, the Supreme Court of India held that adultery can be considered as a ground for divorce under Section 13(1)(i) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. The court ruled that the presence of an extramarital affair could be considered as cruelty or mental agony inflicted on the spouse, leading to the breakdown of the marriage.

  2. Sowmithri Vishnu vs. Union of India (1985)

    This case is significant as it challenged the constitutionality of Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalized adultery. The Supreme Court, in this case, upheld the validity of the law, stating that the law does not treat women as the property of their husbands. However, this law was criticized for being discriminatory, as it only punished the man involved in an extramarital affair and not the woman.

  3. K. Srinivas Rao vs. D.A. Deepa (2013)

    In this case, the Supreme Court held that a single act of adultery is not enough to prove cruelty in a marriage for the purpose of obtaining a divorce. The court emphasized that for a marriage to be dissolved on the grounds of adultery, the act must be of such a nature that it makes it impossible for the spouses to live together as a married couple.

  4. Nithya Anand Raghavan vs. K. Devi (2016)

    In this case, the Supreme Court emphasized that not all extramarital affairs necessarily amount to cruelty, and each case must be examined on its merits. The court stated that it is essential to consider the impact of the extramarital affair on the spouse and whether it has led to the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.

These cases illustrate how the Indian legal system has dealt with extramarital affairs in the context of matrimonial disputes, divorce, and related matters. It's important to note that the interpretation of the law may vary depending on the specific facts and circumstances of each case, and legal principles continue to evolve through judicial decisions and legislative amendments.


It's important to consult with a family lawyer or divorce lawyer in your area for specific advice related to your situation, as family law and divorce proceedings can vary depending on individual circumstances and personal choices. If you live in Kolkata, then consult a family lawyer, divorce lawyer in kolkata. Additionally, cultural and societal norms may play a significant role in how extramarital affairs are perceived and addressed in India.


  1. What is extra marital affair?

    An extramarital affair refers to a romantic or sexual relationship between a person who is married or in a committed partnership and someone other than their spouse or partner.

  2. Is extra marital affair legal in India?

    Extra marital affairs are not illegal in India. While they may have legal consequences in specific contexts, such as divorce proceedings, they are not criminal offenses on their own.

  3. Is it normal to have extra marital affairs?

    Whether it is considered "normal" to have an extramarital affair varies from person to person and culture to culture. In many societies, extramarital affairs are generally frowned upon and may be considered a breach of trust and commitment within a relationship.

  4. What happens after an extra marital affair?

    The consequences of an extramarital affair can vary widely. They often include damage to the primary relationship, such as marital discord or divorce. The impact on the individuals involved can also be emotional and psychological, including feelings of guilt, betrayal, and emotional turmoil. In some cases, extramarital affairs lead to reconciliation and strengthening of the primary relationship, but this is not guaranteed.
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Dear Client, Divorce petition can be filed on the grounds of adultery in this regard. Section 497 IPC has been decriminalised by the Supreme Court.
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