Failing to marry not a crime: SC

Verdict can act as precedent to get men facing rape charges off the hook

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi | Published: May 21, 2013 2:15 am

A man cannot be punished for deception and rape in all the cases where he establishes physical relations with a woman but fails to keep his promise to marry her due to certain circumstances. Unless the “clandestine” motives on the part of the man can be proved,the Supreme Court has ruled,no absolute criminal liability can be fastened on him after entirely ignoring the act of the woman in giving her consent for the relationship. The verdict can act as a precedent for getting a number of men,facing cheating and rape charges,off the hook.

Drawing an unequivocal distinction between a “mere breach of a promise” and “not fulfilling a false promise”,a Bench led by Justice B S Chauhan held that an accused can be convicted for rape only if the court reaches a conclusion that his intention was “malafide and he had clandestine motives” right from the beginning.

“There may be a case where the prosecutrix agrees to have sexual intercourse on account of her love and passion for the accused and not solely on account of misrepresentation by the accused,or where an accused on account of circumstances which he could not have foreseen,or which were beyond his control,was unable to marry her,despite having every intention to do so. Such cases must be treated differently,” it noted. Every failure to fulfil a promise to marry,it said,cannot amount to fraudulent misrepresentation and that there could be circumstances when a person,having the best of intentions,is unable to marry the victim owing to various unavoidable circumstances.

The court’s ruling came as it acquitted a man,undergoing a seven years’ jail term,in a 1995 rape and abduction case in Haryana’s Karnal.

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