Adultery is an act which requires the consent of both the parties. The male offender alone is liable to punishment and the married woman is not liable even as an abettor.
The offence under the above section is limited to adultery committed with a married woman. It does not constitute an offence of adultery if one has sexual intercourse with a widow or an unmarried woman. Even in the case of a married woman the adulterer is not liable if the husband consents to it.
Adultery and Rape:
Adultery differs from rape in several ways. First, adultery is an act which requires the consent of both the parties, but in the case of rape the consent of the woman is wanting. Secondly, in adultery the woman must be a married woman, i.e., the wife of another man. There is no adultery if one has sexual intercourse with a widow or even with a married woman whose husband consents to or connives at it. In the case of rape it can be committed on any woman married, unmarried or widow.
Thirdly, adultery cannot be committed by a husband with his own wife but rape may be committed by a husband upon his own wife if she is below fifteen years of age. Fourthly, adultery is an offence relating to marriage, but rape is an offence against the person of the woman.
Fifthly, in adultery the aggrieved party is the husband, the wife having consented to the act, but in rape the woman is the aggrieved party. And, lastly, adultery is not so serious an offence as rape. The punishment provided for the former is five years’ imprisonment or fine or both, but it is imprisonment for life or ten years, or fine or both in the case of the latter.