Kerala HC: Consensual sex with married woman on false promise of marriage no ground for rape

Kerala High Court (File Image | IANS)

Kochi | The Kerala High Court has ruled that consensual sex with a married woman on the basis of false promise of marriage will not amount to rape since such a promise is not enforceable under law.

The court recently gave this ruling in a case where it was considering a petition filed by the accused to quash all the criminal proceedings pending against him .

The accused and the victim, both Indian, first met through Facebook in Australia.

Later their relationship blossomed and they decided to marry and on two occasions they had consensual sexual intercourse. However, the marriage did not take place.

During that phase, the woman, however, was still married though separated from her husband, and the divorce proceedings were going on.

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The judge Kauser Edappagath reiterated his previous decision that the promise alleged to have been made by the accused to a married woman that he would marry her, is a promise which is not enforceable under law and, therefore, the offence of rape under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) will not be attracted.

"It is a case where the victim who is a married woman voluntarily had sex with her lover. She knew pretty well that she cannot enter a lawful marriage with the petitioner, in as much as she is a married woman. Recently, this Court had held that the promise alleged to have been made by the accused to a married woman that he could marry her is a promise which is not enforceable in law. Such an unenforceable and illegal promise cannot be a basis for the prosecution under Section 376 of IPC. Here, no question of promise to marry arise, since, the victim is a married woman and she knew that legal marriage with the petitioner was not possible under the law," the order said.

The prosecution case was that the accused after giving a false promise of marriage, sexually assaulted the woman on several occasions and, thereby, committed the offence of rape.

The Court noted that it was evident from the first information statement that the sexual intercourse was consensual in nature. The woman consented to sex persuaded by the promise of marriage given by the petitioner.

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"It is settled that if a man retracts his promise to marry a woman, consensual sex they had would not constitute an offence of rape under Section 376 of IPC unless it is established that consent for such sexual act was obtained by him, by giving false promise of marriage with no intention of being adhered to and that promise made was false to his knowledge," the order further said.

The Court noted that the basic ingredients of Section 376 of the IPC are not attracted since the woman knew that the promise cannot be enforced since she was a married woman.

"An unenforceable and illegal promise cannot be a basis for the prosecution under Section 376 of IPC. Here, no question of promise to marry arise, since, the victim is a married woman and she knew that legal marriage with the petitioner was not possible under the law," the Court said.

Therefore, the Court quashed the case against the accused on the ground that a man's promise to marry an already married woman would not attract provisions of rape under Section 376.

IANS

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