Critical Analysis on Offences Relating To Marriage

Marriage is a legitimate relationship between man and wife but there are certain offences like bigamy, adultery and mock marriages that threaten this institution and the society. This blog talks further about the same by illustrating their sections in IPC along with case laws


Section 493 to 498 of the Indian Penal Code deals with the offences relating to marriage.

Mock marriage

As per the Section[1], mock marriage means invalid marriage. It is a cohabitation or sexual intercourse by a man, married or unmarried with a woman of any age whom he induces to be his wife, but in fact his concubine. This form of marriage depends upon the race or religion to which the parties to the marriage belong to. If the parties to the marriage do not belong to the same race or religion, then they can change their religion.

Ingredients of Section

To constitute the offence under section-493 the following system needs to be satisfied:

  • The accused cohabited with the prosecutrix.
  • He was not legally married to her
  • She has consented to the cohabited to the cohabitation believing that she had been lawfully married to him
  • Such belief in her was induced by deceit on the part of the accused

But the section[2] seeks to punish fraudulent or mock marriage. It applies to those situations where a fake ceremony is gone through pretending it to be a valid marriage.

As in the case of Kailash Singh v. State of Rajasthan[3], the accused who was a married man induced a girl saying that he was unmarried. The parents of the girls also believed his words. They gave dowry and arranged between the accused and their daughter. The deceived girl complained about this matter to the police .The court convicted the accused under sec-496.

In another case of Prasanna Kumar v.Dhanlaxmi[4]as per the Hindu Marriage Act[5] the fact of pendency of the appeal from the girl or her parents. It was held that no conviction could be entered under section-496, IPC as the act of the accused was neither dishonest nor fraudulent.

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Bigamy is covered under section 494 to 496, IPC. Bigamy[6] means marrying again during the lifetime of the lawfully wedded spouse or having two spouse living. If a man or woman having a spouse living marries again is guilty of the offences of bigamy. If a man has two wives it tends to bigamy or if a woman has more than two husbands, it is called polyandry.


When the first marriage is declared void or dissolved by the court of competent jurisdiction. If the whereabouts of the other spouse is not known for a continuous period of seven periods.

 Ingredients of the section

  • That the accused has already been married to some person
  • That the accused married another person
  • That the second marriage was void by the reason of its taking place during the life of the first spouse.


This section is applicable to Hindus, Christians, Parsis, Jews, but it is not applicability to Mohammedan male, who can have four wives at a time legally. The Supreme Court in the case of B.S. Lokhandev. State of Maharastra[7]held that the accused not guilty of bigamy and acquitted on the ground that the second marriage was not valid on the ground that it was not solemnized with legal grounds.

Santosh Kumar v. Surjit Singh[8]the court held that no court is authorized to permit second marriage even if it is at the application of the first wife. Such permission has been held illegal.


As per the section-494 & 495 IPC. The person is liable to be imprisonment which may extend to seven years and liable to fine which may extend to ten years.


Adultery means “sexual intercourse[9]” by a man with a married woman who is not his wife with her consent and not without the consent or connivance of her husband not amounts to rape. This also is one of the offences relating to marriage.

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Ingredients of the section

  • The accused has sexual intercourse with a woman
  • The woman is married and the accused had knowledge of the same
  • The sexual intercourse took place without the consent or connivance of her husband
  • The sexual intercourse did not amount to rape

For this offence of adultery, man alone is punished through the woman is involved. The complaint should be filed by her husband who has aggrieved a party.


It has been said that these section (offences relating to marriage) sometimes are violative of an article[10] of the Indian constitution. The article guarantees equality before the law and equal protection of law irrespective of sex, religion, etc.Section-497 discriminates between man and woman as it confer right on the husband to institute criminal proceedings on the adulterer.i.e-the third person who had sexual intercourse with the woman. For guilty of offence of adultery ,m an alone is punished not the woman though she is equally involved in the offence[11]. Section 497, IPC is not violative of article-14 as adultery is considered as an offence against the sanctity of  the matrimonial home and hence, those men who defile the sanctity are brought within the clutches of law are punished.

Also read Ceremonies and Their Rigidity in a Hindu Marriage

[1] Sec-493,Indian Penal code,1860.

[2] Sec-496,Indian Penal Code,1860.

[3]1992,Cr.LJ 1005 Raj.

[4] 1989 Cr.LJ 1829 (Mad).

[5] Sec-15,Hindu Marriage Act,1955.

[6] Sec-494,Indian Penal Code,1860.

[7] AIR 1965 SC 1564.

[8] 1990 CrLJ 1012 HP.

[9] Sec-497,Indian Penal Code,1860.

[10] Art-14,Constitution Of India,1950.

[11] Vishnu v. Union of India,1985 SC 1618.