In a landmark judgement, Supreme Court has defined consent in relation to sexual relations being obtained on the premise of getting married. Thus, wherein a couple had sexual relations and the consent of the woman in the said relationship was obtained on the basis that the man told her that they would get married, and eventually, he married someone else, the said woman has filed a complaint citing rape.

Among many other definitions of rape, rape is also obtaining the consent of a party/a woman by fraud/ misconception of fact or coercion such as getting a woman to have relations by promising marriage.

The Supreme Court has adhered that a promise of marriage in such a situation to be identified as rape, ought to be given in bad faith with no intention of being adhered to. Said false promise ought to be the direct nexus to the woman’s decision to engage in sexual intercourse.

The Supreme Court has also identified the difference between ‘false promise‘ and ‘breach of promise‘. A false promise is ab initio (from the beginning) false and such false promise is the very basis of a woman’s decision to engage in sexual intercourse. *Such false promise results in misconception of fact and is thus rape.* A breach of promise is made in good faith but subsequently unfulfilled, is not rape.

In this particular case, a breach of promise has been made and thus it cannot be classified as an offence of rape.

The Supreme Court, after seeing a lot of cases has finally made a very forward thinking and modern judgement which de-stigmatizes pre marital relations. Hoping that this forward thinking judgement wherein consent is recognized becomes the basis for less litigation and false cases against men.

In a country with biased laws towards men, this comes as a boon to most men. While rape is still invalidating consent of a woman, consensual sex between parties cannot be classified as rape for revenge against a man for not marrying a woman.

 

Tanya Mehta
Siddhartha Shah &Associates

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