Law on sexual offences rightly women centric but male partner not always wrong: Allahabad High Court

The burden of proof is upon both of the complainant and accused, the Court said while upholding the acquittal of a man accused of rape on false promise of marriage.

law on sexual offences is rightly women centric but that does not mean the male partner is always wrong, the Allahabad High Court recently observed in a case of rape on the false promise of marriage.

A Division Bench of Justices Rahul Chaturvedi and Nand Prabha Shukla said the burden of proof in such cases is on both the complainant and the accused.

It made the observations while upholding acquittal of an accused in a rape case. 

“No doubt, chapter XVI “Sexual Offences”, is a womensentic (sic) enactment to protect the dignity and honour of a lady and girl and rightly so, but while assessing the circumstances, it is not the only and every time the male partner is at wrong, the burden is upon both of them,” the Court observed.

The Court was hearing the complainant's appeal against acquittal of the accused in the rape case. The accused had also been chargesheeted under Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

The victim in 2019 had made a police complaint that the accused established sexual relationship with her on the promise of marriage but later refused to marry her. She also claimed that he had spoken about her caste in a derogatory manner.

The accused was chargesheeted in 2020. The trial court earlier this year acquitted the accused of rape charge and convicted him only under Section 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) of Indian Penal Code (IPC).

The victim then filed an appeal against the trial court verdict.

In response, the accused told the Court that the relationship was consensual and that he had declined to marry after coming to know that her real caste was not ‘Yadav’ as projected by her.

Considering the contentions and material on record, the Court found that the complainant had married a man in 2010 but she started living separately after two years. 

It also noted that the complainant had denied the fact about her earlier marriage and pleaded ignorance about her name in the family register produced before the trial court. 

“On this score, the learned trial court has rightly given a finding that under circumstances, it is highly unlikely that the accused-respondent have trapped her in the false pretext of marriage. Secondly, assuming for the sake of argument, that some promise was extended to her but after the emergence of this new fact, that victim is already married to xxx and that marriage still subsist, then any amount of promise to marry would automatically get evaporated,” it said. 

On applicability of SC/ST Act in the case, the Court said caste of parties plays a vital role in giving permanence to any relationship in the society.

In this regard, it observed that the complainant was unable to clarify the claim regarding her caste.

In this regard, it observed that the complainant was unable to clarify the claim regarding her caste.

“Therefore, it can be easily inferred that a lady who is already married and without dissolution of her earlier marriage and concealing her caste has maintained the physical relationship for good 5 years without any objection and hesitation and both of them have visited numbers of hotel, lodges at Allahabad and Lucknow and enjoyed the company of each other. It is difficult to adjudicate who is befooling whom?,” it said.

The Court thus concluded that the trial court had rightly acquitted the accused.

"It is unswallowable proposition that a weaker sex is being used by the male partner for five good years and she keep on permitting him on so called false pretext of marriage. Both of them are major and they understand the gravity of the situation and the far reaching repercussion of pre-marital sex and still they maintained this relationship at different places, different cities, which clearly indicates that this acquisitions that she was subjected to sexual harassment and rape cannot be accepted," it said