“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 laid down this ratio while dismissing an appeal of a woman that challenged the order of the lower court acquitting the man, she had accused of raping her on the pretext of marriage. The court presided over by J. V. Bakhru in the case of X Vs. State (Govt. of NCT of Delhi), [CRL.A. 613/2020 & CRL.M.A. 16968/2020].
The facts of the case are that the Appellant filed an FIR against the accused alleging that she has been raped by him. The woman alleges that she shared a physical relationship with this man in the year 2008 and after a period of 3 to 4 months, the man promised to marry her but later he had a relationship with another woman. Therefore, the woman has alleged that she has been raped by the accused.
The trial court after analyzing the evidence and testimony acquitted the Accused and they further observed that the Appellant continued to have physical relationship even after the accused was with another woman and therefore stated, “It is thus evident that the prosecutrix established physical relations with the accused of her own free will and accord as she had genuine affection for the accused and that in the first instance her consent for physical relations had not been obtained by the accused by making any promise of marriage to her.” The Appellant aggrieved by this order filed an Appeal in the High Court.
The Single bench judge of the Delhi High Court upheld the order of the trial court and stated that “In some of the cases, people agree to have sex after the promise of marriage is made. However, the same does not apply to cases with long-term intimacy.” The Court with respect to consent stated that, “In certain cases, a promise of marriage may induce a party to agree to establish sexual relations, even though the party does not desire to consent to the same. Such inducements in a given moment may elicit consent, even though the concerned party may want to say no.” But in this particular case physical relationship between the two was much before the promise to marry.
The Court also relied on the landmark judgment of Pramod Suryabhan Pawar v. State of Maharashtra and Another: (2019) SCC online SC 1073, in which the court held that “Consent with respect to Section 375 of the IPC involves an active understanding of the circumstances, actions and consequences of the proposed act. An individual who makes a reasoned choice to act after evaluating various alternative actions (or inaction) as well as the various possible consequences flowing from such action or inaction, consents to such action.”