The live-in partner of 27-year-old Jet Airways pilot, Varun Agarwal, may have accused him of rape after he refused to marry her, but legal experts say police should be more careful when investigating cases like these.
Lawyers say rape is a heinous crime that deserves strict punishment, but whether the provisions governing rape are applicable here is the question.
Agarwal’s live-in partner, an airhostess, complained to the Powai police that he repeatedly raped her after promising to marry her. The police have lodged a first information report accusing Agarwal of raping and cheating the complainant.
Lawyers say in such cases the police should first conduct a preliminary inquiry into the allegations. Special public prosecutor Rohini Salian said the complainant is an adult mature enough to decide that she wants to live-in with the pilot. Even if it is assumed that she succumbed to physical relationship under threat, why did she keep quiet for so long, Salian asked. “The police could have conducted an initial inquiry before lodging the FIR,” Salian said. “The facts and circumstance of the case suggest that the pilot should not have been booked for rape.”
Public prosecutor Satish Borulkar agreed saying intercourse with the promise of marriage cannot be rape. “The Supreme Court held in 2009 that sexual intercourse following promise of marriage cannot be construed as rape,” Borulkar said. “The consent is there, even if with a false promise.”
“When we talk about a live-in relationship, intercourse by consent is implicit. The man, in this case, cannot be booked for rape,” said advocate Shrikant Shivade. Legal experts said under the Indian Penal Code, charges of rape can be applied only if intercourse is by force.
“Even if consent is unwilling or under threat or under duress, it amounts to consent,” said advocate Sayaji Nangre. “The person can be tried for cheating, but not rape.”