Offences Relating to Marriage

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The Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC), contains several sections related to offences relating to marriage. These sections cover various aspects of marriage and the crimes that can arise from them. Offences relating to marriage include domestic violence, bigamy, adultery, concealing previous marriages, and fraudulent conduct during wedding ceremonies.

One such section is Section 498-A, which is also known as The Cruelty Law. The purpose of this law, along with The Domestic Violence Act passed in 2005, is to provide protection to women who are victims of cruelty and domestic violence. These laws ensure that every citizen’s Fundamental Right to Life and Dignity, as provided by the Constitution of India, is respected. Additionally, cruelty is also a valid ground for divorce.

Other sections dealing offences relating to marriage with of the IPC‘s Chapter XX include

  • Mock marriages (Section 493)
  • Bigamy (Section 494 and 495)
  • Fraud Marriage (Section 496)
  • Adultery (Section 497)
  • Criminal elopement (Section 498)

Offences Relating to Marriage in the Indian Penal Code

The offences relating to marriage under IPC are:

Concealing the previous marriage before subsequently getting wed

Section 495 talks about a ten-year incarceration period, with a fine, for a person who hides their former marriage with someone they are getting married to. It is a non-cognizable, bailable offence, with the trial being carried out by first class Magistrate. Concealing the previous marriage before subsequently getting wed is one of the offences related to marriage.

Fraudulent conduction of a wedding ceremony without a lawful, genuine marriage

Section 496 provides for a jail term extending up to as long as seven years, along with a fine, for anyone who dishonestly, clubbed with a fraudulent intention, goes through the wedding ceremony, despite knowing that he is not thereby lawfully married.


Earlier, Section 497 gave way for a jail term up to five years, with or without a fine, to a person who had sexual intercourse with the wife of another man without the consent or connivance of that man. If it was not rape, the man would be guilty of the offence of adultery. Meanwhile, in such a case, the wife would not be punishable as an abettor. 

It is important to note that this law has since been decriminalised but continues to be strong grounds for divorce.

Hence, adultery is is one of the offences related to marriage.

Enticing a married woman for illicit sexual relations 

Section 498 of the IPC provides for a two-year jail term, with or without a fine, for anyone who takes conceals or detains or entices away, any woman who is and whom he knows or has reason to believe to be the wife of any other man, with the intent that she may have illicit intercourse with any person.

The deceit and fraudulent intention should exist at the time of the marriage.

The essential ingredients of Sections 493 and 496 are as follows:

  • the accused must have deceived the woman, 
  • Consequently, she is led to believe that she is lawfully married to him, though in reality, she is not.

Thereby, mens rea is an essential component of both these sections. The words ‘deceit’, ‘dishonestly’ and ‘fraudulent intention’ have been used in Sections 493 and 496 respectively. This means that in both the sections while the man remains aware that they are not married, the woman is cheated on by the man into believing the same to be true.

Landmark Judgements

Subhransu Sekhar Samantray v. The State (2002)

In this case, the Orissa High Court ruled that if the prosecutrix stated that she had resisted sexual relations with the accused, but then submitted herself to his advances after he put vermillion on her head and declared her as his wife and after he alleged that he would publicly accept her status in his life after getting a job, this constituted an offence under Section 493 of the IPC.

Kashuri v. Ramaswamy (1978)

The court in this case held that the proof of sexual intercourse could be inferred from the facts and circumstances of a case since direct evidence was rarely available for a matter related to offences related to marriage.

Alamgir v. State of Bihar (1958)

This case established that if a man knowingly took away another man’s wife to have illicit intercourse, intending to deprive the husband of his control over her, it would constitute an offence within the meaning of Section 498.

Mohd. Hoshan vs. State of A.P (2002)

In this case, the Supreme Court concluded that the issue of cruelty by one person to another was a subjective question of fact that depended on various factors, including the victim’s sensitivity, socio-economic background and education.

Sushil Kumar Sharma vs. Union of India and others (2005)

Sushil Kumar Sharma vs. Union of India and others is one of the leading cases on offences related to marriage. The Supreme Court, in this landmark case, noted that the purpose of Section 498A was to prevent the dowry menace. However, many cases of false complaints and abuse of this provision have since come to light. The 243rd Law Commission’s Report stated that such misuse was not a reason to remove the provision since it served a larger societal interest.

Arnesh Kumar v. State of Bihar and Anr (2014)

The Supreme Court in Arnesh Kumar v. State of Bihar declared that no arrest should be made immediately in cases where the accused had allegedly committed an offence under Section 498A. The court laid down guidelines for police officers to follow during arrests made under this section, as there had been an increase in false complaints.


Offences related to marriage are serious crimes that can lead to devastating consequences for those involved. From bigamy and adultery to concealing a previous marriage and fraudulently conducting a wedding ceremony, these offences have been the subject of intense legal debate and scrutiny over the years. The Indian Penal Code provides for strict punishment for those found guilty of such offences, with imprisonment and fines being the most common penalties. 

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