A consensual relationship between two adults without any deceit or inducement does not constitute the offence of rape or cheating, said the Bombay high court on Saturday, while striking down a criminal case registered against a Mumbaiite, whose girlfriend alleged that he raped and cheated her.
The complainant, a Mulund resident, said she and the accused had been dating for a long time. She said she did not want a physical relationship, but he coerced her into one, saying he would marry her.
The relationship turned physical in September 2014, said the woman. She added that she had also undergone an abortion as her boyfriend was unwilling to support the child.
She approached the police station after her boyfriend’s sister told her that he would not marry her. The police called him and his relatives, after which he told the police he would marry the woman. The marriage was performed on April 25, 2015.
The woman said that on January 28, 2016, her husband left the house saying he was going to attend a friend’s wedding at Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh. However, he neither returned home nor answered the phone when she called. She approached the Mulund police again.
Acting on her complaint, the police booked her husband under sections 376 (punishment for rape) and section 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property) of the Indian Penal Code.
The man approached the high court, saying that even if the woman’s allegations were true, he was not guilty of rape or cheating. He said that to continue criminal proceedings would be an abuse of the law.
A division bench of justices Abhay Oka and Anuja Prabhudessai noted that the woman was not a minor and the relationship had been consensual from the beginning. They said that thus, their physical relationship could not constitute rape.
The judges said the couple was married, which negated the woman’s allegation that the man had deceived her or lured her into physical relationship under the false promise of marriage.
“It must be shown that the accused had fraudulent intentions at the time of making the promise. Only then can it constitute cheating,” said the bench.