Under section 420 of IPC, breach of promise to marry is not cheating : Karnataka High Court

The issue in involving a case where after years of courtship and promise to marry, the man ultimately married another woman as his family supported their marriage, such a promise  was held by the Karnataka High Court to not fall within the purview of Cheating under section 420 of IPC .The bench consisted of Justice K Natarajan in the matters between Venkatesh v. State of Karnataka Criminal petition No. 5865 of 2021 decided on 13.1.2022.

The facts of the case involved an allegation on behalf of the complainant that the accused met her 8 years ago and started courtship and also agreed to marry her.Later on, the man married another woman because his family supported his marriage. She filed a complaint against the man who was charged under sections 420, 506 with Section 34 of the IPC.

The counsel on behalf of the Petitioners contended a simple promise to marry which is breached does not constitute an offender under Section 415 of the IPC. Further, after the case was filed in May 2020, there had been no investigation by the police, and the case was filed only to harass the man and his family.

No counsel on behalf of the Respondent appeared before the court even after issue of notice in pursuant to the same.

The Karnataka High Court held that promise of marriage and breach of contract will not attract the provisions of Sections 417 and 420 of the IPC. The decisions of the Madras High Court  in KU Prabhuraj v. State by Sub Inspector of Police AWPS Tambaram and Anr  was relied upon along with the Supreme Court in SW Palanitkar and Ors. v. State of Bihar and Anr. where it was determined that the breach of contract could not lead to criminal prosecution for fraud at the time the crime was allegedly committed and initially demonstrated dishonest intent is an abuse of procedural law. The FIR was crushed and petition was also allowed.

Click read here to read the judgement

Judgement reviewed by Bhaswati Goldar

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