The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that a consensual physical relationship between live-in partners cannot be termed as rape after the relationship dies and the man does not marry the woman due to circumstances that are not in his control, PTI reported. This announcement came when it dismissed an FIR filed by a Maharashtra-based nurse against a doctor with whom she was in a live-in relationship.

A bench of Justices AK Sikri and S Abdul Nazeer declared that when live-in partners fail to marry but were having consensual sex under the promise of marriage, the woman is not allowed to initiate criminal proceedings for rape. It said that such cases could be termed as a case of false promise to marry. “There is a clear distinction between rape and consensual sex. The court, in such cases, must very carefully examine whether the accused had actually wanted to marry the victim or had mala fide motives and had made a false promise to this effect only to satisfy his lust, as the latter falls within the ambit of cheating or deception. There is also a distinction between mere breach of a promise and not fulfilling a false promise. If the accused has not made the promise with the sole intention to seduce the prosecutrix to indulge in sexual acts, such an act would not amount to rape,” the court said.

The Supreme Court, however, said that if the man had “any clandestine motives”, then it was a clear case of rape. “There may be a case where the prosecutrix agrees to have sexual intercourse on account of her love and passion for the accused and not solely on account of the misconception created by accused, or where an accused, on account of circumstances which he could not have foreseen or which were beyond his control, was unable to marry her despite having every intention to do. Such cases must be treated differently,” the bench said.

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