Long-term sexual relation based on promise of marriage can’t be involuntary, says Delhi HC

Justice Vibhu Bakhru 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.
The single judge bench was hearing the appeal of a woman who had challenged the acquittal of a man who she claimed had raped her on the pretext of marriage and later deserted her.(HT Archive)
The single judge bench was hearing the appeal of a woman who had challenged the acquittal of a man who she claimed had raped her on the pretext of marriage and later deserted her.(HT Archive)
Updated on Dec 17, 2020 09:40 AM IST
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Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByRicha Banka

“A promise of marriage cannot be held as an inducement for engaging in sex over a protracted and indefinite period of time”, the Delhi high court said, while dismissing the appeal of a woman who had challenged the acquittal of man who she had accused of raping on the pretext of marriage.

Justice Vibhu Bakhru 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.

“Inducement to have a physical relationship by promising marriage and the victim falling prey to such an inducement may be understandable in the context of the moment. A promise of marriage cannot be held as an inducement for engaging in sex over a protracted and indefinite period of time,” the court said in its judgment passed on December 15.

The single judge bench was hearing the appeal of a woman who had challenged the acquittal of a man who she claimed had raped her on the pretext of marriage and later deserted her.

On August 15, 2015, the woman had filed a complaint at the police station in Malviya Nagar alleging rape following which an FIR was registered under IPC sections 376 (rape) and 415 (cheating) against the accused. In her complaint, the woman had alleged that she was working as a domestic help in Greater Kailash and she knew the accused since 2008.

She claimed that he promised to marry her and made her elope with him. He later took her to his house and kept her with him as his bride, she said. During that period, she became pregnant but he allegedly forced her to terminate the pregnancy.

Till 2013, they stayed together. Then the accused left for his village in Punjab and later she got to know that he had married a woman there.

In 2014, she continued to be in touch with the accused over phone, and also stayed with him in a rented house in Faridabad for almost six months. Later, he got married to another woman following which she registered the complaint.

The court said it is apparent that there is no dispute between the woman and the accused and the relationship between them was consensual. It also said the allegation that the accused had given her a promise of marriage is not sustainable.

The judge said in certain cases, a promise to marry may induce a party to agree to establish sexual relations, even though such a party does not desire to consent to the same. In such cases, a false promise to marry with the intention to exploit the other party may vitiate consent and thus, constitute rape, the court said.

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