When a man is having a sexual intercourse with a woman 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 Adultery. The man who had sexual intercourse will be liable for the offence of Adultery. This is defined in Section 497 of Indian Penal Code(hereinafter referred as 'the Code').
Bigamy is defined under Section 494 of the Code. Whenever a man or woman who are having a wife or husband respectively, marries another woman or man during the lifetime of their partners, the offence of Bigamy is committed. Indian law do not allow such marriages.
The distinction between the Adultery and Bigamy are as follows:
1. In adultery, the sexual intercourse is with the wife of another person without the consent or connivance of that person.
In Bigamy, either sex who has a husband or wife living marries another.
2. Consent of husband will absolve the offender from criminal liability of Adultery.
In Bigamy, consent given by either sex will not help the partner who marries another person.
3. There is no punishment for wife in the offence of Adultery. But the wife may be punished as an abettor.
But in the case of Bigamy, either sex may be punished.
4. The offence of adultery attracts 5 years of imprisonment.
The offence of bigamy is met with 10 years of imprisonment.