There have been many cases where a boy promises to marry a girl but after a few days of the relationship, he refuses to marry. In such matters, if a girl feels cheated, she can file a complaint under the provisions of the section 420 (cheating) while if she feels the mala fide intentions on the part of the boy, she can file a case under Section 376 (punishment for rape) of Indian Penal Code (IPC).

However, the charges depend upon the intention of the accused. In a case, the Court said that there can be matters where the victim agrees to have sexual intercourse due to her love and passion for the accused and not solely on account of the misconception created by accused, or where an accused due to unforeseen or uncontrollable circumstances, was unable to marry her despite having every intention to do. Such cases should be dealt with differently.

Section 376 (Punishment for rape) of the Indian Penal Code defines as follows:

  1. Whoever, except in the cases provided for in sub-section (2), commits rape, shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not he less than seven years, but which may extend to imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.

Section 376 subsection 2 lays don certain exception to the above charges.

Section 420 of The Indian Penal Code talks about the offense which is committed by the person who cheats another person and thereby induces the deceived to deliver any property. This provision provides punishment for the same.

Making of false representation and Mensrea of the accused at the time of making the inducement is one of the essential ingredients to institute the offense of cheating under Section 420 IPC. In order to bring a case for the offense of cheating, it is not merely satisfactory to prove that a false representation had been made, but it is further necessary to prove that the representation was false to the knowledge of the accused and was made in order to deceive the complainant.

Promise to Marry is 376 or 420 IPC?
Promise to Marry is 376 or 420 IPC?

Let’s look at a similar case. Facts of the Case are:

  • A 29-year-old man, who is a serving army captain, was booked by the city police on Thursday for allegedly raping a 28-year old woman from Jaipur after promising to marry her.
  • The accused and the women had come in contact with each other via Facebook in November last year.
  • In a complaint by the women, she alleged that on November 23, 2018, she has expressed her feelings to the accused and told him that she considered him as her life partner.
  • The accused had also mentioned to her that he wanted to settle down.
  • According to the police, the accused is a serving captain resident of Gurugram. They haven’t arrested him yet.
  • On March 2, the women came to Delhi for her friend’s reception and met the accused at the wedding venue.
  • Later they came to Sector 29, where the accused had already booked a room.
  • The women alleged that until he raped her, he was polite but later his behavior She wanted to inform about him to the police but he apologized to her.
  • The women stayed in the same room and couldn’t return to her cousin’s home as it was raining outside. Next morning, the accused told her that he could not marry her.

In a case, Rajiv Patil v State of Maharashtra, Bombay High Court (January 17, 2017) held that every breach of promise to marry cannot amount to rape.

Justice MridulaBhatkar calling it an “unfortunate but routine case” said that initially, a girl and a boy genuinely may want to get married and have true emotions, hence, established a sexual relationship, even though in a while anyone may decide to withdraw from the relationship on finding flaws incompatibility.

In such situations, partners cannot compel to marry the other person just due to a sexual relationship. A healthy, legal and objective legal approach for such matters is very crucial. Despite the fact that a woman may suffer more than the man, it cannot be termed as rape in any manner legally. After relying on the circumstances for qualification of rape, Justice Bhatkar observed that in rape cases, the act of sexual intercourse mustbe a forcible one, without the consent of the woman.

Therefore under Indian Law, refusing to marry after having a sexual relationship does not constitute the offense of rape. Due to the lack ofproper guidelines, it all depends on the court’s decisions that rely on the facts and circumstances in the particular case while determining the question of rape on a false promise to marry.

This post is written by Damini Aggarwal of Punjab University (2020 batch). For more info, please dial 99888-17966.