The Rajasthan High Court has ruled that the state government cannot begin departmental proceedings against any government employee for being involved in an extramarital relationship.
The court gave this ruling recently on a writ petition filed by two police officers, a man and a woman, who were charged by the state government in 1999 for having illicit relations.
The state government had argued that the couple have violated the Rajasthan Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1971.
Justice Sanjeev Prakash Sharma said adultery cannot be a ground for any departmental proceedings but the affected people can seek a legal remedy, including divorce.
He said an "act of relationship entered by an individual with another female or male while his/her spouse is alive would be an act amounting to adultery."
"However, it will not be a ground for initiating departmental proceedings by the employer," he added.
The judge said it was "left best for the person who may be affected individually to take the remedy and proceed against him/her in civil law or for initiating divorce proceedings as the case may be".
Setting aside the government probe, Justice Sharma said, "What is an immoral life is a debatable question."
He said, according to Indian mythology, Lord Ganesha had Riddhi and Siddhi as life partners.
"Lord Krishna is said to have had 16,000 ''ranis'', but these are all mythological concepts," he said.
"The only aspect which can be understood is that of being faithful to the spouse alone and is a concept understood in relation to the new laws and norms laid down in the society."
Justice Sharma while referring to various judgments of the Supreme Court on the right to privacy said, "The concept of an illicit relationship with regard to leading an immoral life has to be understood taking into consideration the right of an individual to privacy."
The judgment comes amid a debate over the recent dismissal by the Rajasthan government of IPS official Pankaj Choudhary.
The government had accused him of misconduct, citing an extramarital relationship.
The official recently announced plans to contest the Lok Sabha elections.