Delhi High Court: Noting that the Trial Court failed to perform its duty and rendered a mechanical order, Subramonium Prasad, J., set aside the trial Court’s order in a matter wherein, a woman had alleged that she was subjected to physical relationship with a boy on a false promise of marriage.

A petition was filed under Sections 397/401 CrPC read with Section 482 CrPC for setting aside the decision of Additional Sessions, Tis Hazari Courts arising out of an FIR registered for offences under Section 376(2)(n) of the Penal Code, 1860.

Factual Background

Petitioner had extended a false promise of marriage to the prosecutrix on the basis of which he had sustained a physical relationship with her.

It was stated that the prosecutrix and the petitioner were engaged, but the wedding was postponed due to some issues on the family of the prosecutrix. Prosecutrix had requested the petitioner to marry her by way of court marriage or in Arya Samaj Temple and the said request was rejected by the petitioner.

Prosecutrix alleged that the petitioner’s family raised the issue that the prosecutrix was not financially well-off and that the petitioner wanted to marry a girl whose father would have the wherewithal to invest money in his marriage. Hence the FIR was registered under Section 376(2)(n) IPC.

In January, 2020 the Court had granted anticipatory bail to the petitioner, after which a charge sheet was filed and Trial framed charges against the petitioner. On being aggrieved with the same, the instant revision petition was filed.

Analysis, Law and Decision

As per Section 376(2)(n) IPC, whoever commits rape repeatedly on the same woman shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than ten years, but which may extend to imprisonment for life, which shall mean imprisonment for the remainder of that person’s natural life and shall also be liable to fine.

The primary allegation in the instant matter was that under the garb of marriage, the petitioner repeatedly raped the prosecutrix.

High Court examined the difference between a false promise of marriage and breach of promise to marry.

Breach of Promise to Marry: In this, sexual relations are initiated on the premise that two individuals will marry at a later point in time.

False Promise of Marriage: Sexual relations take place without any intention of marrying at all and the consent that is obtained for the said relations to take place is vitiated by way of misconception of fact. The said aspect was elaborate by the Supreme Court in various decisions, one of such judgments was:  Pramod Suryabhan Pawar v. State of Maharashtra, (2019) 9 SCC 608.

In the decision of Deepak Gulati v. State of Haryana, (2013) 7 SCC 675, Supreme Court had categorically distinguished between rape and consensual sex, as well as the distinction between mere breach of a promise and not fulfilling a false promise.

Hence, in order to arrive at the conclusion that the sexual relations were coerced, it is necessary to examine whether at the stage of rendering a promise to marry, it was done with the intention of not keeping the promise and, therefore, was false at the inception of itself. (Sonu v. State of U.P., 2021 SCC OnLine SC 181)

As per the FIR, the prosecutrix and petitioner were in a long term relationship and were engaged.

On perusal of Section 90 IPC, it is clear that consent given under fear or misconception cannot be said to be consent. In the instant matter, Bench stated that the petitioner and prosecutrix were in a long-term relationship and furthermore, an engagement ceremony had taken place between the two.

The above-said indicated that the petitioner intended to marry the prosecutrix, but just because the relationship ended on hostile terms, it could not be concluded that the petitioner had no intent to marry the prosecutrix in the first place.

From the above, the High Court opined that consent so accorded by the prosecutrix for the establishment of a physical relationship was not predicated upon misconception or fear.

Bench concluded that the impugned order failed to accord the reasons to substantiate how there was sufficient material to proceed against the petitioner under Section 376(2)(n) of the IPC.

Trial Court is not a mere post office and must apply its mind to the facts of the case to arrive at the conclusion as to whether a prima facie case is made out against the accused that would warrant charges to be framed against them.

In view of the above petition was allowed. [Shailendra Kumar Yadav v. State, 2022 SCC OnLine Del 976, decided on 5-4-2022]

Advocates before the Court:

For the Petitioner:

Badar Mahmood, Advocate

For the Respondent:

Neelam Sharma, APP for the State with SI Ajay Singh, Police Station Paharganj. Complainant – in person

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