Orissa High Court: Sexual Intercourse on the False Promise of Marriage Is Not Rape

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In G Achyut Kumar v State of Orissa, the Court held that sexual intercourse on a false marriage promise will not amount to rape. In light of this issue, the Orissa High Court questioned if interference in intimate relations was necessary.

Facts of the Case

The complainant is a girl aged 19 years from a tribal community in Koraput district, Orissa. The accused and the complainant are residents of the same village. They were in a sexual relationship for over 4 years. As a result of this relationship, the victim has had to end her pregnancy twice. The accused forced her to do so by administering tablets.

The accused had made a false promise of marriage to the victim at the beginning of their relationship. Consequently, the petitioner lodged a complaint in the Patangi Police Station. She implicated the accused to have committed crimes under Section 493/313/376 of the IPC read with Section 3(2)(v) of the SC & ST (PoA) Act, 2015. 

Arguments in the Court 

Ld. Sr. Counsel D.P. Dhal appeared for the appellant (accused), while Addl. Standing Counsel Mr. Sangram Keshari Mishra appeared for respondent (complainant). 

The main argument on behalf of the accused was that both the parties had attained majority and had given valid consent. Thus, the validity of the consent would rule out the contention of rape. Additionally, he contended that these allegations were baseless. There is unnecessary entangling of the boy, a student, in legal proceedings. 

The counsel for the victim pleaded for the plight of the innocent girl. Unfortunately, she had fallen prey to the accused person’s false promises. The victim is from a tribal community. She had terminated two pregnancies on coercion. This attracts the section 376 and 313 of IPC. Hence, the complainant’s counsel opposed bail for the accused on these grounds.

Court’s Analysis

Justice Panigrahi made observations about the victims of such dubious marriage promises. He said that these women are usually from disadvantaged and poor segments of the society. The current rape laws overlook their plight. However, there have been many instances where women have used the law as a weapon. There are various reasons for doing so, such as getting revenge on their partner. In conclusion, this misuse defeats the very provision of the law.

There have been conflicting views from different courts of law throughout the country. In Jayanti Panda v State of West Bengal, the High Court held that consent of an adult girl on the pretext of marriage is no misconception of fact. The Apex Court in Uday v State of Karnataka made a contradicting decision. It held that consent given on false marriage promise will amount to consent under the misconception of fact. 

The statutes are unclear on consent to sexual intercourse by false marriage promises. Subsequently, the Court perused into Section 375 of the IPC. The concept of ‘consent’ and ‘no consent ‘has been laid down very clearly. Under Section 375, consent to sexual activity on the pretext of marriage is not unlawful.

Thus, the Court opined that rape laws should not regulate intimate relationships. 

Held

The Court after careful consideration of both sides, granted bail to the accused. It observed that consent to the act of sexual intercourse by adults cannot be a ground for rape. This is regardless of whether there was a false promise of marriage or not.


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