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Relationship turning sour will not attract offence of rape: Kerala High Court

The Kerala High Court ruled on Friday that a poor relationship between a man and a woman cannot lead to rape allegations against the man through the bench of Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas in the case of Navaneeth N Nath v State of Kerala (B.A. No.5164 of 2022)

FACTS OF THE CASE: 

The Petitioner was accused of offences punishable under section 376(2)(n) and section 313 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

The petitioner, a lawyer practicing in Kerala’s High Court, was arrested based on a statement supplied by the victim of the aforementioned crime. The victim is also an Advocate in this Court, and she delivered her statement to the police from the Intensive Care Unit of an Ernakulam hospital. She was admitted to the hospital after severing her wrist. According to her account, the petitioner was arrested on the same night that the charges of rape were publicized.

According to the prosecution, the victim cut her wrist while she was in the same room as the petitioner and his fiancée. She was then taken to the hospital, where she submitted a statement accusing the petitioner. After promising to marry the victim, the petitioner allegedly raped her at several locations, including a hotel in Ernakulam, Vagamon, and other locations. He then allegedly broke his word and chose to wed another woman, according to the police report.

An offence under section 376 IPC will not be established, according to Sri.M.Ramesh Chander, learned Senior Counsel for the petitioner who was duly instructed by Adv.C.P.Udayabhanu. It was argued that there was never any promise of marriage and that the physical relationship developed naturally without any commitment to wed.

JUDGEMENT: 

The Court ruled that a sexual relationship between two willing adult partners does not constitute rape under section 376 of the IPC unless the consent for sex was obtained by a fraudulent act or misrepresentation. Even if a sexual relationship between two consensual people does not result in marriage, it is not rape in the absence of any factor that vitiates consent for sex. A subsequent unwillingness to marry or failure to guide the relationship into marriage are not grounds for divorce.

The bench observed that even if the partners had engaged in a physical relationship, a subsequent refusal to wed or a failure to induce the relationship into a marriage are not grounds for rape. Only when a woman is subjected to a sexual relationship against her will, without her consent, or when that consent was procured by force or fraud can it be considered rape.

It was further held that Consent for sex obtained through a promise to marry will amount to rape only if the promise was made in poor faith, tainted by deception, or was not intended to be followed at the time it was made. To convert a physical relationship between a man and a woman into rape owing to the failure to keep the promise of marriage, the woman’s decision to engage in the sexual act must be founded on the promise of marriage.

Accordingly, the bail application was allowed.

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JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY REETI SHETTY

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