Case Title: Mohd. Julfukar v. The State of Uttarakhand and Another
Case No: Criminal Appeal No. 174 of 2024
Decided on: 9th January, 2024
CORAM: THE HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE B.R. GAVAI AND HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE SANDEEP MEHTA
Facts of the Case
The accused/appellant engaged in a relationship with the complainant against her parents’ wishes, and they chose to live together. The complainant’s father filed a Habeas Corpus Petition in the High Court, alleging that the accused had unlawfully detained his daughter and seeking a directive for her production. Subsequently, the accused and the complainant cohabited for a significant period. However, their relationship encountered discord, leading them to reside separately. Following this, the complainant lodged an FIR with the Police Station, accusing the accused of offenses under Sections 376, 377, and 506 of the Indian Penal Code.
Whether the sexual relationship between the accused and the complainant after the ‘forced’ marriage amounted to Rape?
Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code defines rape as “sexual intercourse with a woman against her will, without her consent, by coercion, misrepresentation or fraud or at a time when she has been intoxicated or duped, or is of unsound mental health and in any case if she is under 18 years of age.”
Court’s analysis and decision
The Supreme Court nullified a rape case upon recognizing that the sexual involvement between the defendant and the complainant occurred subsequent to a marriage that was deemed coercive. The Court made this observation during an appeal contesting the decision of the Uttarakhand High Court, which had denied the accused’s application to dismiss the charges under Sections 376 and 506 of the Indian Penal Code.
The Bench, consisting of Justice B.R. Gavai and Justice Sandeep Mehta, stated, “It is, thus, clear from her own statement that she was forced to marry the appellant. As such, the relationship between the appellant and the complainant was after the said marriage. It could thus be seen that even if the statement made by the complainant is taken on its face value, the ingredients to constitute the offence under Section 376 IPC are not made out.”
The Court additionally stated that the complainant herself has expressed a lack of intention to pursue the legal proceedings any further. In her affidavit submitted to the Court, she conveyed that they have jointly sought a divorce, which was officially concluded through Talaq-E-Khula on September 7, 2022.
The Court further mentioned that the appellant and the complainant have amicably settled their differences and mutually opted to lead peaceful lives. Consequently, the Court deemed the ongoing criminal proceedings contrary to the interests of justice. In line with this, the Supreme Court granted the appeal, resulting in the annulment of the High Court’s order.
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Written by- Afshan Ahmad