Del HC | Can continuing with an intimate relationship involving sexual activity over a significant period of time, be construed as involuntary? Court answers

Delhi High Court: Vibhu Bakhru, J., observed that it is difficult to accept that continuing with an intimate relationship, which also involves engaging in sexual activity over a significant period of time, can be construed as involuntary and secured not by affection but only on the lure of marriage.

The instant appeal was filed impugning the judgment wherein the accused was acquitted of the offences punishable under Section 417/376 of the Penal Code, 1860.

Prosecutions case rested almost entirely on the statements of the testimony of the complainant. From the testimony, it was apparent that no dispute existed between the appellant and accused and the relationship was consensual.

Bench found no infirmity with the trial court’s decision, as a bare reading of the complaint made by the appellant as well as her testimony clearly indicated that even according to her, her relationship with the accused was consensual.

Her allegation that her consent has been vitiated on account of having been obtained by misrepresentation, is clearly, unsustainable.

In Supreme Court’s decision of Pramod Suryabhan Pawar v. State of Maharashtra, (2019) 9 SCC 608, it was held that:

“Court has repeatedly 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.

Where the promise to marry is false and the intention of the maker at the time of making the promise itself was not to abide by it but to deceive the woman to convince her to engage in sexual relations, there is a “misconception of fact” that vitiates the woman’s “consent”. On the other hand, a breach of a promise cannot be said to be a false promise.”

Trial Court had noted that according to the complaint, the appellant stated that she had a physical relationship with the accused in the year 2008 and after 3-4 months, thereafter he had promised to marry her.

In view of the said statement, her allegation that her consent to engage in sexual activity is vitiated, as the same was secured on a promise to get married is —UNSUSTAINABLE.

Inducement to have a physical relationship by promising marriage and the victim falling prey to such inducement may be understandable in the context of the moment.

A promise of marriage cannot be held out as an inducement for engaging in sex over a protracted and indefinite period of time.

Bench also observed that the present appeal was filed after an inordinate delay of 640 days and no credible explanation was placed in that regard.

Hence, the appeal was unmerited and it was accordingly dismissed. [X v. State (Govt of NCT of Delhi), 2020 SCC OnLine Del 1631, decided on 15-12-2020]


Advocates who appeared in the matter:

Appellant: Saurabh Kansal, Advocate

Respondents: Ravi Nayak, APP for State with SI Preeti, PS Malviya Nagar.

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