The Constitutional Court of Taiwan has ruled that the provisions of Criminal Law, which criminalize Adultery, are unconstitutional. The court stated that such a provision restricts people’s sexual autonomy and also interferes with the privacy of the people.
A Taiwanese man was found guilty of adultery and thereafter he approached the Court, challenging the constitutionality of Adultery. Article 239 of the Criminal Law of Taiwan stipulates that "People who have a spouse and commit adultery shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not more than one year.” The court noted that while Adultery might harm the feelings of the spouse, it does not necessarily mount as an offence against the public. This is relating to the principle that criminal offences are considered to be crime in rem. Further, the court stated that the total number of women convicted of adultery is significantly lower than men.
In India, Adultery used to be an offence under Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. But in 2018, the provision was struck down in the landmark judgement of Joseph Shine v. Union of India. It was noted by the Court that Section 497 does not necessarily aims at protecting the sanctity of marriage. It was noted that section 497 was hit by provisions as laid down by the Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) v. Union of India as right to privacy also include sexual privacy. Further, it cannot be said that this provision acts as a beneficial provision, falling under the ambit of Article 15(3). It also indirectly discriminates against women by holding an erroneous presumption that women are the property of the men.
In 2016, even South Korean Courts had struck down the adultery law, as it violated people’s right to privacy and sexual autonomy.
But still, there are certain countries such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Iran, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, United Arab Emirates, some states of the US, Algeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt and Morocco, which treat adultery as a criminal offence.