Man reneging from marriage due to parents' disapproval can't be tried for rape: Bombay HC

Representational image. Photo: Canva

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court's Nagpur bench has held that a man reneging from marriage due to parental disapproval cannot be tried for the offence of rape.

A single bench of Justice M W Chandwani on January 30 discharged a 31-year-old man booked for allegedly raping a woman under the pretext of marriage, noting that he had intentions of marrying her but had to break the promise because of parental disapproval.

The man had merely breached his promise of marriage and had not given the woman the pretext of marriage to establish physical relations with her, the court said.

"There is a distinction between breach of a promise and not fulfilling a false promise," it said.

The case originated from a complaint filed by the 33-year-old woman in 2019 with the Nagpur police, alleging that the man had engaged in a physical relationship with her after promising marriage.

The man claimed that the woman had initially refused to marry him, after which his family disapproved of the relationship. He then got engaged to someone else.

The high court took note of this and said this would, at the most, amount to a breach of promise.

"At the most, it is a case of non-fulfilment or a breach of promise on account of circumstances, which the applicant (accused) could not have foreseen or which were beyond his control as he was unable to marry the victim, despite having every intention to do so," it said.

The court further noted that there was no material on record to show that since the beginning of the relationship, the man had no intention to marry the victim and that he had made a false promise only to establish physical relations.

"Merely because he resiled from his promise to marry since his parents were not agreeable to their marriage, it cannot be said that the applicant committed the offence of rape," it held.

In the petition seeking discharge in the case, the man said he had every intention to marry the woman, but she declined his proposal and told him she would marry someone else.

The man's family members also disapproved of the relationship, after which he agreed to get engaged to another woman.

However, the victim allegedly got infuriated and lodged the complaint, the plea stated, adding that the complainant had married another man in 2021.

The court noted that the victim was a mature adult and said the allegations levelled by her do not at face value indicate that the man's promise to marry her was false.

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