Refusal to marry after sexual relations is not cheating

Refusal to marry after sexual relations is not cheating

Kashinath Narayan Gharat Vs State of Maharashtra

Bombay HC

09/12/2021

CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 119 OF 1999

About/from the judgment:

The High Court recently set aside the conviction of a man who was booked for cheating a woman by having sexual relations with her under the promise of marriage.

The woman had filed a complaint in 1996 alleging that the accused had a sexual relationship with her with a promise to marry, and then declined to marry her. An FIR was lodged against the man for offences punishable under Sections 376 (rape) and 417 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code.

After a three-year trial, the accused was acquitted for the charge of rape, but was convicted for cheating, and was sentenced to undergo a rigorous imprisonment of one year. He challenged the conviction before the High Court in the present appeal.

Reversing the conviction, the Court observed that the evidence on record did not indicate that the prosecutrix had a sexual relationship with the accused under any misconception of a promise of marriage, or that her consent was based on any fraudulent misrepresentation.

“There is no evidence on record to indicate that since the inception accused did not intend to marry her. In the absence of evidence to prove that the woman had consented for physical relationship on a misconception of fact, as stipulated under Section 90 of IPC, the mere refusal to marry would not constitute offence under Section 417 of the IPC,” the Court held.

During the course of the trial, it was revealed that the prosecutrix and the accused knew each other and had a sexual relationship for over three years.

“The accused has been held guilty of offence under Section 417 of the IPC solely for the reason that he refused to marry the prosecutrix. The question is whether in such circumstances refusal to marry constitutes an offence of cheating,” the order stated.

The Court observed that the evidence of the prosecutrix's sister revealed that there was a love affair between the accused and the complainant. During the trial, the court noted that eight witnesses reiterated that the accused was known to the complainant.

With this observation, the High Court allowed the appeal, and set aside the judgment of the Sessions Court.

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