Offences relating to marriage under IPC

Section 493 to 498 A, of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 deals with the offences relating to marriage. Section 493 of Indian Penal Code deals with the offence of Cohabitation caused by a man deceitfully inducing a belief of lawful marriage.

By virtue of Section 493, every man who by deceit causes any woman who is not lawfully married to him to believe that she is lawfully married to him and to cohabit or have sexual intercourse with him in that belief, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.

Thorough reading of above mentioned Section makes it clear that, in order to constitute an offence under Section 493 of IPC, it shall have following two essential ingredients;

  1. Deceit causing a false belief in the existence of a lawful marriage; and
  2. Cohabitation or sexual intercourse with the person causing such belief

Section 494 of Indian Penal Code deals with the offence of Marrying again during lifetime of husband or wife. By virtue of said section, whoever, having a husband or wife living, marries in any case in which such marriage is void by reason of its taking place during the life of such husband or wife, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.

However, Section 494 does not extend to any person whose marriage with such husband or wife has been declared void by a Court of competent jurisdiction, nor to any person who contracts a marriage during the life of a former husband or wife, if such husband or wife, at the time of the subsequent marriage, shall have been continually absent from such person for the space of seven years, and shall not have been heard of by such person as being alive within that time provided the person contracting such subsequent marriage shall, before such marriage takes place, inform the person with whom such marriage is contracted of the real state of facts so far as the same are within his or her knowledge.

Further, whoever commits the same offence with concealment of former marriage from person with whom subsequent marriage is contracted, the fact of the former marriage, shall be punished under Section 495 of Indian Penal Code, with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.

Section 496 of Indian Penal Code deals with the offence of Marriage ceremony fraudulently gone through without lawful marriage. By virtue of Section 496 of IPC whoever, dishonestly or with a fraudulent intention, goes through the ceremony of being married, knowing that he is not thereby lawfully married, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.

By virtue of Section 497 of Indian Penal Code, whoever has sexual intercourse with a person who is and whom he knows or has reason to believe to be the wife of another man, without the consent or connivance of that man, such sexual intercourse not amounting to the offence of rape, is guilty of the offence of adultery, and shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, or with fine, or with both. In such case the wife shall not be punishable as an abettor.

Section 498 of Indian Penal Code deals with the offence of Enticing or taking away or detaining with criminal intent a married woman. By virtue of Section 498 of Indian Penal Code, whoever takes or entices away any woman who is and whom he knows or has reason to believe to be the wife of any other man, from that man, or from any person having the care of her on behalf of that man, with intent that she may have illicit intercourse with any person, or conceals or detains with that intent any such woman, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.

By virtue of Section 498 A of Indian Penal Code, whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine. For the purpose of this Section, the term “cruelty” means;

  1. any wilful conduct which is of such a nature as is likely to drive the woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to life, limb or health (whether mental or physical) of the woman; or
  2. harassment of the woman where such harassment is with a view to coercing her or any person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any property or valuable security or is on account of failure by her or any person related to her to meet such demand.

This is one of the Sections in the Indian Penal Code, which is widely misused. Read more on the misuse of sexual harassment laws in India.

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