False Promise of Marriage in India

Law
29-Apr-2023
blog-img

Marriage is often considered one of the most important decisions a person can make in their lifetime. It is a union of two individuals who vow to love and cherish each other for eternity. However, what happens when the promise of a happy, fulfilling marriage turns out to be nothing but a facade? 

Unfortunately, this scenario is all too common, as many people fall victim to the false promise of marriage. In this article, we will delve deeper into this topic and explore all you need to know about this heartbreaking phenomenon. So buckle up, and let's dive in!             

What is the False Promise of Marriage?

The false promise of marriage refers to a situation where a person makes a promise to marry someone to have sexual relations with them but has no genuine intention of getting married. This false promise is often used as a means to deceive the other person into engaging in sexual activity with them.

The concept of the false promise of marriage is essential in cases of sexual violence as it establishes that the consent given by the victim was not genuine and was obtained under pretenses. In such cases, the accused can be charged with rape or other related offenses under the Indian Penal Code, depending on the circumstances of the case.

Laws About False Promise of Marriage

1. Section 375 of IPC

Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code is a crucial legislation that aims to protect women from the heinous crime of rape. In recent years, there has been a rising trend of cases where men obtain consent for sexual intercourse by making false promises to marry the victim. This has led to a need for stronger laws to combat such situations.

Under Section 375, a man is deemed to have committed rape if he engages in sexual activity with a woman without her consent or against her will. This includes situations where consent is obtained by the use of force, fear, or deception. It also includes cases where the woman is unable to communicate her consent or is not of legal age.

One of the most significant aspects of this law is that it acknowledges the gravity of sexual intercourse based on a false promise to marry. While this may seem like a mere breach of trust, it can have far-reaching consequences for the victim, including psychological trauma and social stigma. 

Hence, the law stipulates that sexual intercourse based on a promise to marry will be considered rape only if the accused had no intention of fulfilling that promise from the outset.

It is crucial to note that in cases where the accused had a genuine intention to marry the victim, and circumstances beyond their control prevented them from fulfilling that promise, they may not be convicted of rape. The court must be convinced that the accused had mala fide intentions and clandestine motives, making it a deliberate act of deception.

2. Section 90 of IPC

Section 90 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) relates to "Consent known to be given under fear or misconception." According to this section, a person who gives his or her consent to an act because of fear of injury, or misconception of fact, is not considered to have given valid consent.

A landmark case that highlights the significance of Section 90 is the State of Uttar Pradesh v Naushad (2013). In this case, the accused, Naushad promised to marry Shabana, the daughter of the informant, who was his paternal uncle. He enticed her to have sexual intercourse with him based on this false promise.

However, when Shabana became pregnant, and Naushad refused to marry her, the informant filed a complaint against him. The Court had to decide whether Naushad could be held guilty of the offense of rape under Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code.

After careful consideration of the evidence, the Court found Naushad guilty of rape and sentenced him to life imprisonment with a fine of ₹10,000 under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code. The Court recognized that Naushad had obtained Shabana's consent under pretenses, and her consent was not valid under Section 90 of the Indian Penal Code.

This case highlights the importance of informed consent in sexual activity and the consequences of violating someone's trust by making false promises. It also sends a strong message that the law will not tolerate such deceitful and exploitative behavior, and perpetrators will be punished accordingly.

Punishments for False Promise of Marriage

The punishment for rape in India is severe, as it should be. Section 376 of the IPC details the penalties for this heinous crime. Under the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act of 2013, the minimum jail term for rape is ten years for an ordinary citizen.

A recent case that illustrates the punishment for rape is Anurag Soni v. State of Chhattisgarh (2019). In this case, the accused proposed to marry the victim, but he already had intentions to marry another girl. He engaged in sexual activity with the victim on the pretext of marriage, which was later revealed to be false. 

As the victim's consent was obtained under pretenses, it was deemed invalid. The accused was found guilty of rape under Section 376 of the IPC and was subjected to the punishment prescribed under the law.

Defenses Available

In cases where charges of sexual violence are made against an accused, it is essential to evaluate the level of guilt based on the statutory provisions while also taking into account the circumstances of the case. While it is true that live-in relationships and pre-marital sex are becoming more acceptable in Indian society, there are still situations where the accused can avail of defenses.

One such defense is when the victim has given her consent to sexual intercourse despite knowing the improbability of marriage. In the case of Uday v. State of Karnataka, the accused was not found guilty of rape as the victim was aware that marriage was unlikely and gave her consent due to her strong love for the accused. This case demonstrates the importance of considering the victim's state of mind and their consent when evaluating the accused's level of guilt.

In the case of Radhakrishan Meena, the victim was an educated working woman who had a consensual sexual relationship with the accused, who later forced her to marry him. However, as there was no evidence of the accused's mala fide intention, it was determined that no offense had been committed. The Court emphasized that educated and powerful women are assumed to be fully aware of the consequences of premarital sex and provide their consent accordingly.

It is crucial to note that these defenses should not be used to justify non-consensual sexual activity or to shift the blame onto the victim. Rather, they should be applied judiciously in cases where the facts and circumstances support them. It is the responsibility of the Court to ensure that justice is served and the rights of both parties are protected.

You might be interested in: How to Deal with False Rape Allegations?

Case Studies

1. Anurag Soni v State of Chhattisgarh (2019)

In this case, a girl studying Pharmacy gave her consent to engage in physical relations with the accused only after he promised to marry her. However, it was later revealed that the accused had already been engaged to someone else named Priyanka Soni.

The Court determined that the accused had no intention of marrying the victim from the beginning, and his promise was merely a false one to deceive her into consenting to physical relations. As a result, the victim's consent was based on a misconception of fact under Section 90 of the IPC and was deemed as no consent at all.

Consequently, justice was served as the accused was found guilty of the heinous offense of rape under Section 375 of the IPC. The verdict sends a strong message to society that any form of sexual activity without the informed consent of all parties involved is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

Furthermore, the case serves as a stark reminder of the consequences of making false promises of marriage to coerce someone into engaging in sexual activity. Such manipulative behavior is not only morally reprehensible but also a criminal offense under the law.

2. Yedla Srinivasa Rao v State of A.P (2006) 

In this case, the accused persistently asked the prosecutrix's sister for sexual favors, despite her repeated refusals. Eventually, he forced himself upon her and began a sexual relationship with her after promising to marry her.

When the victim became pregnant, the accused gave her tablets to abort the child, but they were ineffective. He later refused to marry her, citing her parents' objection to their relationship. The victim testified that she would not have consented to the sexual relationship if she had known the accused's true intentions.

The Court determined that the victim's consent was based on the false promise of marriage and was therefore deemed invalid under Section 90 of the IPC. As a result, the accused was found guilty of rape under Section 375 of the IPC, and the punishment prescribed under Section 376 was imposed on him.

Conclusion

The concept of false promises of marriage is an important one in cases of sexual violence and is recognized by the law in India. The law ensures that perpetrators cannot escape liability by using fraudulent means to obtain consent, and it is essential to remember that informed consent is a fundamental requirement for any sexual activity.

Looking to the future, it is crucial to continue to raise awareness about the issue of the false promise of marriage and its consequences. This includes educating individuals about their rights and responsibilities, as well as promoting a culture of consent and respect. Additionally, efforts should be made to address the underlying social and cultural factors that contribute to this problem, including gender inequality, social norms, and attitudes toward sexual activity.

Ultimately, it is only through sustained efforts at the individual, community, and societal levels that we can hope to create a safer and more equitable environment for all individuals.


About Author:

Adv. Kanishk Sinha, a senior lawyer with over 5 years of experience, practices in the Kolkata High Court. With expertise in civil, criminal, family, and corporate law, Adv. Sinha excels in handling various legal cases. Clients seeking excellent representation can rely on his extensive experience and unwavering commitment to achieving favorable outcomes.