Woman can’t allege rape on pretext of marriage merely because long-term relationship fails: Madhya Pradesh High Court

Chambers of Ishaan Garg

Ch. No. 217, Western Wing, District & Sessions Court, Tis Hazari, New Delhi, Delhi 110054

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At a young age, a couple may believe that they are in love and their relationship will lead to marriage; however, if it fails, the woman cannot lodge an FIR saying rape has been committed, the Court said.

A woman cannot allege offence of rape merely because a long-term consensual relationship did not lead to marriage, the Madhya Pradesh High Court recently held while quashing a criminal case filed against a man for rape on the pretext of marriage.

The Court noted that the accused and the complainant had entered into a ten-year relationship out of their own free will but ultimately separated since the man did not wish to marry.

Justice Sanjay Dwivedi observed that the Supreme Court and the High Court have consistently held that such type of relationship cannot be given the colour of rape.

The judge went on to hold that a woman cannot file a rape case simply because a youthful impression that a long-term physical relationship would naturally lead to marriage, is broken.

In the young age when a boy and a girl attracts towards each other and they flow in emotions and believe that they love each other, normally they carry impression that their relationship will naturally be led to marriage. However, sometimes it fails, and the girl, considering herself to be betrayed and deceived, cannot lodge the FIR saying that rape has been committed with her," the Court said.

The Court was dealing with a petition filed by a man to quash a criminal case filed against him in 2021 accusing him of committing rape by making a false promise of marriage.

The complainant told the police that she and the accused man had been in a relationship since they were in high school and that they had eventually engaged in physical relations until about 2020.

The complainant claimed that while proposing to her and while they were in the relationship, the man had promised that he would marry her. However, the relationship ended after the man refused to marry her.

She informed her father about the same leading to the filing of the criminal case.

The man then filed a petition before the High Court seeking to quash the case. He asserted that the relationship between him and the complainant-woman had been consensual.

The High Court noted that the complainant may have had reason to file a complaint in 2010 when the physical relationship first began - if it had started on the pretext that the man would marry her.

However, the Court observed, the relationship continued until 2020 with no complaint being lodged until 2021 when the man refused to marry her. It was difficult to believe that the physical relationship had continued on a false promise to marry, the Court opined.

"In the facts and circumstances of the present case, it is difficult to sustain the charge levelled against the petitioner that he developed physical relation with the prosecutrix on a false promise of marriage. It is also difficult to hold sexual intercourse in the course of a relationship, which continued for over 10 years, as ‘rape’ especially in the facts of the complainant’s own allegation," the Court said.

The Court also reiterated that there is a difference between a "false promise of marriage" and a breach of a genuine promise to marry.

"There may, of course, be circumstances, when a person having the best of intentions is unable to marry the victim owing to various unavoidable circumstances," the Court said.

"In order to come within the meaning of the term 'misconception of fact', the fact must have an immediate relevance. Section 90 IPC cannot be called into aid in such a situation, to pardon the act of a girl in entirety," the Court explained.

The Court proceeded to allow the petition and quash the criminal case against the petitioner (accused man).

"The present case does not come within the definition of rape as defined in Section 375 of IPC because consensual relationship and affair between the parties are apparent on the face of the record and admitted by the prosecutrix herself and therefore if ultimately their relationship could not culminate into marriage and the promise made by the petitioner was not fulfilled by him, it cannot be said that consent given by the prosecutrix for developing physical relation was obtained by the petitioner on the false pretext of marriage," the Court found.

Case Title: XXX Vs. State of Madhya Pradesh (Misc. Criminal Case No. 5754 of 2022)