Sex on the pretext of the false promise of marriage does not amount to rape, the Orissa High Court ruled on Sunday. Setting aside the order by a lower court, the HC granted bail to a man who was accused of impregnating a 19-year-old woman, after falsely promising marriage. The man, as stated by the woman, took advantage of her innocence and terminated her pregnancy with the help of some medicines.

As per the current laws, a man can be convicted of rape if it is ‘established’ that he had sexual intercourse with a woman on the pretext of a false promise of marriage. However, the Orissa HC Bench ruled that rape laws should not be used to regulate intimate relationships, especially in cases where women have agency and are entering a relationship by choice, Hindustan Times reported.

Key Takeaways:

  • Sex on the pretext of a false promise of marriage is not rape, the Orissa High Court ruled on Sunday. 
  • Justice S K Panigrahi observed that rape laws should not be used to regulate intimate relationships.
  • With this, Orissa HC granted bail to G Achyut Kumar, who was arrested in 2019, under the charges of raping a 19-year-old woman. 
  • The apex court in April 2019 had ruled that sex on the fake promise of marriage is rape and a blow to a woman’s honor. 

The Case

A 19-year-old girl in Koraput, Orissa, had alleged in 2019, that when she got pregnant twice, her boyfriend, G Achyut Kumar, gave her some medicines and terminated the pregnancy. According to the woman, the accused allegedly took advantage of her innocence and established sexual relations with her after falsely promising marriage, Times Now reported. After the girl lodged a complaint, the police in Koraput arrested the man under the charges of raping a 19-year-old woman. Post this, his bail plea was also rejected by the Sessions-cum-Special judge court of Koraput-Jeypore.

However, Justice S K Panigrahi, Orissa High Court, observed that rape laws should not be used to regulate intimate relationships. He also observed that the law holding that false promise of marriage amounts to marriage appears to be erroneous. “The rape law often fails to capture their plight. The law is well settled that consent obtained on a false promise to marry is not valid consent. Since the framers of the law have specifically provided the circumstances when ‘consent’ amounts to ‘no consent’ in terms of Section 375 of IPC, consent for the sexual act on the pretext of marriage is not one of the circumstances mentioned under Section 375 of IPC. Hence, the automatic extension of provisions of Section 90 of IPC to determine the effect of consent under Section 375 of IPC deserves a serious relook. The law holding that false promise to marriage amounts to rape appears to be erroneous,” Justice Panigrahi said, HT quoted.

Also Read: How True Is The “Menace” Of False Rape Cases In India?

A similar ruling was settled in August 2019, when the Supreme Court ruled that if a woman continues to be in a physical relationship with a man, despite being unsure of marriage, she cannot accuse him of rape on the grounds that he made a false promise of marriage to her. The court observed that there’s a difference between a false promise made intentionally and the one that couldn’t be fulfilled due to circumstances.

However, in April 2019, SC had ruled that sex on the pretext of marriage is rape. It also said that even if the accused and the survivor have settled back into their lives separately, the crime does not become null and void. It noted that such incidents are on a rise these days and rape offends a woman’s dignity and esteem. “It tantamounts to a serious blow to the supreme honor of a woman and offends both her esteem and dignity,” said the bench.

Picture Credit- Prameya News

Also Read: Sex Between Live-In Partners Not Rape If Man Doesn’t Marry: SC

Get the best of SheThePeople delivered to your inbox - subscribe to Our Power Breakfast Newsletter. Follow us on Twitter , Instagram , Facebook and on YouTube, and stay in the know of women who are standing up, speaking out, and leading change.