Man Accused of Rape on False Promise of Marriage Acquitted By SC
"The delay of four years in lodgement of the FIR, at an opportune time of seven days before the appellant solemnizing his marriage with another girl raises serious doubts”, says SC
Man accused of rape by ex-lover just 7 days before his marriage to another woman
A man from the Scheduled tribe community was in a relationship with a Christian girl. The couple was in a relationship for years. The relationship did not culminate in marriage. The boy was set to marry another woman. This led the old lover to lodge a complaint alleging that the appellant raped her on the false pretext of marriage. The complaint was lodged only 7 days before the boy’s marriage. A trial court in Ranchi convicted the aggrieved man. His conviction was appealed to the High Court. After the conviction was upheld by the High Court, the appellant approached the Supreme Court.
Age of the ex-lover in doubt
The Court raised its doubts over the prosecutrix's age. The Court noted in this regard,
"In absence of positive evidence being led by the prosecution about the age of the prosecutrix on the date of occurrence, the possibility of her being above the age of eighteen years on the date cannot be ruled out. The benefit of doubt therefore has to be given to the appellant."
Misconception of fact under Section 90 of IPC has to be in proximity of time to the occurrence
It was contended whether the prosecutrix consented to the physical relationship under any misconception of fact. The Court noted that under Section 90 IPC, consent given under a misconception of fact is no consent in the eyes of law. However, it held,
"But the misconception of fact has to be in proximity of time to the occurrence and cannot be spread for four years. It hardly needs any elaboration that the consent by the appellant was a conscious and informed choice made by her after due deliberation, it is spread over a long period coupled with a conscious positive action not to protest."
The Court even ruled out the allegation that the prosecutrix's consent was obtained through fear of injury. It made the following observation in this regard.
"It is not possible to hold like the evidence on record that the appellant obtained her consent at the inception by putting her under any fear. Under Section 90 IPC a consent given under fear of injury is not consent in the eyes of law. In the facts of the present case we are not persuaded to accept the solitary statement of the prosecutrix that at the time of the first alleged offense her consent was obtained under fear of injury."
Man could not marry her ex-lover due to societal reasons: SC
The Three-judge Bench of Justices Rohinton Fali Nariman, Navin Sinha and Indira Banerjee noted that the woman had written letters to the man elucidating the "passion of love". The Court took notice of the statements of her parents to conclude that the man indeed wanted to marry her, but could not due to societal reasons. The man accepted the fact that his relationship with the girl continued even after his parents did not accept her.
"They were both smitten by each other and passions of youth ruled over their minds and emotions. The physical relations that followed were not isolated or sporadic in nature, but regular over the years. The prosecutrix had even gone and resided in the house of the appellant."
Appellant did not make any false promise of marriage
The Court held that since the woman was aware of all the obstacles but continued to carry on with the relationship. The woman was in a consensual relationship with the appellant and he did not make any false promise of marriage.
"We have no hesitation in concluding that the consent of the prosecutrix was but a conscious and deliberate choice, as distinct from an involuntary action or denial and which opportunity was available to her, because of her deep-seated love for the appellant leading her to willingly permit him liberties with her body, which according to normal human behaviour are permitted only to a person with whom one is deeply in love.
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