Law On Sex Over ‘Promise Of Marriage’ Needs Relook: Orissa HC

Cuttack: The Orissa High Court called for the need to amend legislation to clearly define what constitutes sexual intercourse on the pretext of a false promise of marriage.

While rejecting a bail petition on Wednesday, the single-judge bench of Justice SK Panigrahi observed that the law on the matter of sexual intercourse on the pretext of marriage lacks clarity for conviction of the accused.

“The law holding that false promise to marriage amounts to rape appears to be erroneous. However, the plight of the victim and the probability of the accused tarnishing the dignity of the victim and her family need to be looked at while deliberating on the question of bail,” he said.

Notably, the petitioner had allegedly kept a physical relationship with a woman on the promise of marriage, impregnated her twice and aborted it by giving medicine and later refused to marry her. When her marriage was fixed elsewhere, the accused created a fake account in her name and uploaded her personal photographs. He was arrested and forwarded to jail on June 27, 2020.

“A perusal of the FIR and other documents available in the present case prima facie shows that there are very specific allegations against the petitioner. It is not, as if, the allegations are casual and sweeping against the accused generally. The possibility of coercion of the victim’s family, repetition of a similar type of offence and fleeing from justice cannot be ruled out in the present case. Therefore, the petitioner does not deserve to be granted bail,” Justice Panigrahi said.

“The circumstances when ‘consent’ amounts to ‘no consent’ have been specifically provided in terms of Section 375 of IPC, but consent for the sexual act on pretext of marriage is not one of those mentioned under this section. Hence, the automatic extension of provisions of Section 90 of IPC to determine the effect of consent under Section 375 deserves a serious relook.”

The court, however, observed that rape laws should not be used to regulate intimate relationships, especially where women are entering into a relationship by choice.

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