Rape: Marriage promise can't be called inducement when sexual activity continues over indefinite period of time

X Vs State Govt Of NCT Of Delhi and Anr

Delhi HC

15/12/2020

CRL.A. 613/2020 & CRL.M.A. 16968/2020

About/from the judgment:

"The talks of Marriage took place between accused & prosecutrix after they entered into an intimate physical relationship."

"A promise of marriage cannot be held out as an inducement for engaging in sex over a protracted and indefinite period of time", remarked the High Court while dismissing the appeal filed by a woman against Trial Court's Judgment after an inordinate delay of six hundred and forty days.

The Court dismissed the appeal impugning a judgment dated 24.03.2018 of Trial Court, whereby the accused was acquitted of the offences for which he was charged – offences punishable under Section 417/376 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC).

Background of the matter

On 15.08.2015, the appellant (woman) had filed a complaint with PS Malviya Nagar pursuant to which an FIR under Sections 417/376 of the IPC was registered against the accused Man.

The prosecution's case rested almost entirely on the statements and the testimony of the complainant and after analysing her testimony, the Trial Court, in its Judgment observed,

"It is thus evident that the prosecutrix established physical relations with the accused of her own free will and accord as she had genuine affection for the accused and that in the first instance her consent for physical relations had not been obtained by the accused by making any promise of marriage to her."

The Trial Court further noted,

"The talks of marriage, if any, took place between accused and prosecutrix subsequent to their entering into an intimate physical relationship."

As per prosecutrix herself, she had physical relations with the accused and became pregnant even after his marriage with a woman.

She claimed in her testimony that after some time, the accused had developed a relationship with another girl but in spite of it the prosecutrix continued with her relationship with the accused.

The Trial Court, thus, acquitted the accused for offences punishable under Section 417/376 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC).

High Court's observation

Noting that it "finds no infirmity" with the conclusion reached by the Trial Court, the Delhi High Court said,

"A bare reading of the complaint made by the appellant as well as her testimony clearly indicates that even according to her, her relationship with the accused was consensual. Her allegation that her consent has been vitiated on account of having been obtained by misrepresentation, is clearly, unsustainable."

It may be noted that the Supreme Court has, in the case of Pramod Suryabhan Pawar v. State of Maharashtra and Another: (2019) SCC online SC 1073, held,

"Consent with respect to Section 375 of the IPC involves an active understanding of the circumstances, actions and consequences of the proposed act. An individual who makes a reasoned choice to act after evaluating various alternative actions (or inaction) as well as the various possible consequences flowing from such action or inaction, consents to such action."

In this very matter, the Apex Court has held that in order to establish whether the "consent" was vitiated by a "misconception of fact" arising out of a promise to marry, two propositions must be established:-

- The promise of marriage must have been a false promise, given in bad faith and with no intention of being adhered to at the time it was given.

- The false promise itself must be of immediate relevance, or bear a direct nexus to the woman's decision to engage in the sexual act.

The High Court further remarked,

"Inducement to have a physical relationship by promising marriage and the victim falling prey to such inducement may be understandable in the context of the moment."

Importantly, the Court also said,

"It is difficult to accept that continuing with an intimate relationship, which also involves engaging in sexual activity over a significant period of time, can be construed as involuntary and secured not by affection but only on the lure of marriage."

Lastly, noting that "present appeal is also filed after an inordinate delay of six hundred and forty days", the Court said that the appeal was unmerited and was, accordingly, dismissed both on merits as well as on the ground of delay.

Read the Judgment

Knowledge and content of about almost all their respective descriptions are borrowed from law-related blogs and websites, we, therefore, wish to give proper credit to all the respective law-related blogs and websites like LiveLaw, Bar and Bench, LatestLaws, PathLegal, FirstLaw, Lawctopus, IndianKanoon, Manupatra, LegallyIndia etc.. Many of the judgments are also taken from them websites of Hon'ble Supreme Court and other respective Hon'ble High Courts!

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