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PROVISIONS OF PROMISE TO MARRY AND ENTER INTO SEXUAL INTERCOURSE

Author: Sameer Afzal Ansari, III year of B.A.,LL.B. from Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University


In t2014, tThe tHindu tdid ta series ton trape tcases pending tin tthe tDelhi ttrial courts. tIt thad tundertaken tthe tcumbersome ttask tof tanalysing pendingtrape cases tover ta tperiod tof tsix tmonths. tThis tincluded tinterviewing tvarious people tinvolved tin tthe tprocess, tincluding tjudges tetc.


At tthe tend tof tthe tsurvey ta tshocking tfact temerged. tIt twas tfound tthat tof all tthe tcases twhich thad tbeen tfully ttried, t“over t40% tdealt twith tconsensual sex, tusually tinvolving tthe telopement tof ta tyoung tcouple tand tthe tgirl’s parents tsubsequently tcharging tthe tboy twith trape. tAnother t25% tdealt twith breach tof tpromise tto tmarry”.


These twere tquestionable tcases tfiled tfor tvengeance, tand thad tbeen running the tcourts’ ttime tdry. tIt tis tbecause tof tthese tfalse tcases tthat tactual trape cases, twhich tSection t375 tof tthe tIndian tPenal tCode twas tenacted tto address, twere tleft tpending tfor tyears.


The tquestion tis whether a false promise to marry comes within the ambit of Section 375 IPC, tor tis tit ta tcase tof tmisplaced tsympathy twhere the tremedy is tworse tthan tthe tdisease?


This tarticle targues tthat ta tfalse tpromise tto tmarry tcannot tcome twithin thetambit tof tSection t375.


Consent tis tat tthe tcentre tof tthe toffence tof trape. tBased ton tthe tnature tof the tconsent tor tthe tlack tof tit, tthere tare tthree tcategories tof trape tin tlaw:


1. Rape tby tforce twhere tconsent thas tbeen texpressly tdenied; tor twhere tthe tconsent thas tbeen tgiven tunder tduress tor tcoercion; tor twhere tthe tvictim twas tincapable tof tgiving tconsent tbecause tof tthe tphysical tor tmental tstate tshe twas tin.


2. Statutory tRape twhere tthe tvictim twas tnot tin ta tposition tto tgive tconsent tbecause tof tage.


3. Rape tby tfraud tWhere tthe tconsent thas tbeen tobtained tby tuse tof tdeceit.


Rape tby ta tfalse tpromise tto tmarry tis tan textension tof tthe tthird tcategory i.e. tRape tby tFraud. tThis tnew toffence thas tbeen tread tinto tSection t375 tof the tIPC tby tusing tthe tdefinition tof tthe tword t“consent” tfrom tSection t90 IPC. tAccording tto tthis tdefinition, tconsent tis tvitiated tif tit tis tgiven tunder a tmisconception tof tfact.


Relying ton tthis tdefinition, tthe tcourts thave tinterpreted tthe tword “consent” in tthe tdescription tsecondly tunder tSection t375 ti.e. twithout ther tconsent’; and held tthat tany tconsent tgiven tunder ta tmisconception tof tfact tis tvitiated and ttherefore tthe tact tbecomes tan tact twithout tconsent, tthereby tmaking tit rape. This textension tand treasoning tis ta tcomplete tfallacy. tThere tare tfour reasons twhy tany tfalse tpromise tto tmarry tcannot tbe tsaid tto tqualify tfor the toffence tof trape tu/s t375 tIPC:


1. Section t375 tIPC tis tan tunambiguous tand texhaustive tprovision. Being ta tpenal tprovision, tnothing tought tto tbe tread tinto tit. tIt thas tto tbe tconstrued tstrictly tand tits twords tcannot tbe tstrained tto tintroduce ta tnew tmeaning tto tthe toffence.


There tare tsix tdescriptions tmentioned tin tSection t375. tEach tdescription istdifferent tand tdistinct tfrom tthe tother. tThe trelevant tfactor tthat differentiates teach tdescription tis tthe tnature tand tquality tof tconsent tor the lack tof tit. Descriptions tfirstly tand tsecondly tdeal twith tcases twhere tconsent is taltogether tmissing. tIn tfirstly’, tthe tact tis tcommitted tdespite tan texpress denial tof tconsent.


Juxtaposed tto tthis tis tdescription tsecondly’, twhich tdeals twith tcases twhere the tact thas tbeen tcommitted twithout tany tpositive tassertion tor tdenial tof consent ti.e. tcases twhere tthe tvictim twas tnot tin ta tphysical tor tmental tstate to tgive tconsent. tTherefore, tboth tthese tdescriptions tdeal twith tacts tdone without texpress tor timplied tconsent. tNeither tof tthese tdescriptions tdeals with tthe tnature tof tthe tconsent tor tits tvitiation, tas tthe telement tof consent is tcompletely tabsent.


The tnature tof tthe tconsent tgiven tand tits tvitiation tis trelevant tin tthe tnext three tdescriptions ti.e. tdescriptions tthirdly tto tsixthly’. tThese tdescriptions specifically tdeal twith tcases twhere tthe tact thas tbeen tcommitted t‘with ther consent’. tBy tvirtue tof tthese tdescriptions, tthe tconsent tgiven tbefore tthe tact stands tvitiated tor tbecomes tirrelevant tif tthe tcircumstances tmentioned tin the tdescriptions tare tapplicable.


Therefore, tthere tis ta tclear tdistinction tbetween tthe ttwo tbroad tsets tof descriptions. tThere tis tno toverlap tin tthese tdescriptions tand ta tcase tof tno consent tis tvery tdifferent tfrom ta tcase tof ta tvitiated/invalid tconsent.


Consent tgiven ton tthe tpretext tof ta tfalse tpromise tto tmarry tis ta tcase tof ta vitiated/invalid tconsent. tIt tis tnot ta tcase twhere tconsent twas tnot tgiven tat the ttime tof tthe trelevant tact. tTherefore, tputting tit tunder tthe tdescription secondly tis ta tviolence tto tthe tscheme tof tSection t375.


Had tthe tlegislature tintended ta tfalse tpromise tto tmarry tto tbe tan toffence of trape, tit twould thave tbeen tmade ta tpart tof tdescriptions tthirdly tto sixthly’. tThis texpress tomission, tso tto tsay, tclearly tshows tthe tintention tof the tLegislature. tThe tcourts tcould tnot thave tmade tit tto tbe tone tby misconstruing tthe tdescription tsecondly’.


Therefore, teven tby tusing tthe tgeneral tdefinition tof tthe tword t“consent” provided tin tSection t90, tthe tsaid tact tcould tnot thave tbeen tread tinto tthe description tsecondly tof tSection t375 tIPC.


2. Section t90 tis ta tgeneral tdefinition tin tthe tchapter tof tGeneral tExceptions tand tcannot toverride ta tspecific tprovision tunder tthe tCode. tThe tdefinition tof tconsent tunder tSection t90 tcould tapply tto tother tprovisions tin tthe tIPC tlike tSections t87, t88, t89 tof tIPC, twhere tthe tterm t“consent” thas tbeen tused tbut tnot tdefined tor trestricted. tHowever, tit tcannot tapply tto tSection t375, twhere tthe tscope tand tnature tof tconsent tand tcircumstances tunder twhich tit tstands tvitiated thas tbeen texpressly tdefined.


Descriptions t‘thirdly’ tto t‘sixthly’ texpressly tand tclearly tprovide tfor scenarios twhere tconsent twould tbe tdeemed tto tbe tvitiated. tThese descriptions, twhile tadopting tthe tprinciple tof tinvalidation tof tconsent given under tfear t- twhich tis talso ta tpart tof tSection t90 t- thave tclearly tleft tout the tprinciple tof tinvalidation tof tconsent tbecause tof t‘misconception tof fact’ as ta tground tto tnegate tthe tconsent tgiven tfor tthe trelevant tact. tMoreover, the tamended tSection t375 thas tan texplanation twhich titself tdefines ‘consent’. This texplanation tnow titself tousts tthe tneed tto tuse tthe tdefinition tunder Section t90.


The tgeneral tdefinition tclause tcould tnot thave toverridden ta tclear tand exhaustive tspecial tprovision tto tintroduce tinto tthe tscope tof tthe tsection an toffence twhich twas tnot tintended tby tthe tLegislature.


3. tOn tthe tother thand, tignoring tthe tabove trelevant treasons, teven tif tSection t90 tis tmade tto tapply tto tSection t375, “misconception tof tfact” tcannot tbe tleft tundefined twith tan topen tend. tDoing tso tin trelation tto tand tas tan tessential tingredient tof tan toffence tsuch tas trape twould tmake tit tunconstitutional.


In tjurisdictions twhere tRape tby tFraud tis ta tcrime, tonly tsuch tdeceit twhich colours tthe tnature tor tpurpose tof tthe tsexual tact titself tis tconsidered tto be a tcrime. tFalse tassurances tof tmarriage tare tnot trelevant tas tthey tdon’t change tthe tunderstanding tin tthe tvictim’s tmind tof tthe tactual t“nature tor purpose tof tthe trelevant tact.”


In ta tcase tin tthe tUnited tKingdom, ta ttutor twas tconvicted tof trape tfor convincing this tstudent tto thave tsexual tintercourse twith thim ton tpretext that tit twould improve ther tsinging tability. tHowever, trelying tontthis principle, tthe tcourt twhile tacquitting tthe taccused tof tthe tcharge tof trape, held tthat tthe tconsent tgiven tby ta tprostitute tfor thaving tsexual tintercourse with tthe taccused ton ta tpromise tof tpayment tof ta tcertain tamount twas not vitiated ton tthe taccused’s trefusal tto tpay tthe tsum after tthe trelevant tact.


Glanville tWilliams tin this tTextbook tof tCriminal tLaw, twhile tdiscussing tthis particular tissue texpressly twrote tthat,“in trape, tthe tissue tis tthe twoman’stconsent to tsexual tintercourse twith tthis tman. tIf tshe tdoes tnot tknow tthat tthe tact tis tone tof sexual tintercourse, tor tif tshe tis tmistaken tas tto tthe tidentity tof tthe tman, tthen tshe does tnot tconsent, tbut totherwise tshe tdoes…There tis ttherefore, tno tneed tto tinflate the tgrave toffence tof trape tto tmake tit tcover tsexual tdeceits tin tgeneral.”


In ta tcase tof ta tfalse tpromise tto tmarry, tthe tvictim tis tvery twell taware tof the ttrue tnature tand tpurpose tof tthe trelevant tact. tThis tunderstanding tof the trelevant tsexual tact tdoes tnot tget tdistorted tby ta tfalse tpromise tto marry. tIt tmight tmotivate tthe tvictim, tbut tdoes tnot tchange ther understanding tof tthe trelevant tact. Therefore, tin tsuch tcircumstances, tthe accused tcannot tbe tsaid tto thave committed trape.


The twords t‘misconception tof tfact’ tmentioned tin tSection t90 tIPC thave tto be tgiven ta trestricted tmeaning. tIf tnot tso, tany tand tevery texaggeration; tact of tboasting; tor tfalsity, twhich tmotivated tthe tconsent, twould tamount tto ta ‘misconception tof tfact’ tvitiating tconsent tand tthereby tturning tthe tact tinto the toffence tof trape. tThe tact tof tdeceiving ta tperson tto tmotivate tconsent is tdifferent tfrom tdeceiving tthe tperson tof tthe ttrue tnature tand tpurpose of the tact titself. tOnly tthe tlatter tis tRape tby tFraud teven tthough tboth tare acts tof tdeception.


4. tAny tadjudication ton tthe tbasis tof tpromise tto tmarry tis extremely tambiguous tand tcannot tmeet tthe ttest tof tbeyond treasonable tdoubt. tThe ttest tof t‘real tintentions tof tthe toffender’ tto tadjudge ta tcase tof t‘misconception tof tfact’ tcan treadily tbe tapplicable tin tcommercial ttransactions. tHowever, tin tthe tcontext tof tSection t375 tand tpromise tto tmarry, twhere tcomplex tand tintimate thuman trelationships tare tinvolved, tand twhere treliable tevidence trelating tto tintentions tis tvery tprivate tand trare, tapplicability tof tthe tsame ttest tis tconstitutionally tquestionable.


Moreover, tapplying tthe tstrict trigours/presumptions tin tevidentiary tlaws enacted tby tthe tlegislature tfor tthe toffence tof trape t- tby twhich tit primarily meant tRape tby tForce t- tand tthe tlaw tlaid tdown tby tthe tSupreme tCourt on tthe tsole treliability tof tthe tstatement tof tthe tprosecutrix, tto tcases tof false tpromisetto tmarry tis tutterly tdisproportionate. tThese tgrounds tare itself tenough tto tquestion tthe tconstitutionality tof tthis tcaselaw toffence.


It tis tin tthis tlight tof tthe tabove targuments tthat tthe tHon’ble tSupreme Court tin tthe tcase tof Uday tv. tState tof tKarnataka - twhich twas tthe tfirst tin the tline tof tjudgments theld tthat ta tfalse tpromise tto tmarry tcannot tcome within tthe tambit tof t'misconception tof tfact’ t- theld tin tthe tfollowing words:


“21. It ttherefore tappears tthat tthe tconsensus tof tjudicial topinion tis tin tfavour tof tthe tview tthat tthe tconsent tgiven tby tthe tprosecutrix tto tsexual tintercourse twith ta tperson twith twhom tshe tis tdeeply tin tlove ton ta tpromise tthat the twould tmarry ther ton ta tlater tdate, tcannot tbe tsaid tto tbe tgiven tunder ta tmisconception tof tfact. tA tfalse tpromise tis tnot ta tfact twithin tthe tmeaning tof tthe tCode…”


This tHon’ble tCourt tin tfact twent tto tthe textent tof tkeeping tthe tquestions tof tlaw topen ton tthe texhaustive tnature tof tSection t375 tin tthe tfollowing twords:


“26. tIn tview tof tour tfindings taforesaid, twe tdo tnot tconsider tit tnecessary tto tconsider tthe tquestion tas tto twhether tin ta tcase tof trape tthe tmisconception tof tfact tmust tbe tconfined tto tthe tcircumstances tfalling tunder tSection t375 tfourthly tand tfifthly, tor twhether tconsent tgiven tunder ta tmisconception tof tfact tcontemplated tby tSection t90 thas ta twider tapplication tso tas tto tinclude tcircumstances tnot tenumerated tin tSection t375 tIPC.”


However, ta tfew tyears tafter tthe tabove tjudgment, tin ta tcase twhere tthe trial court thad theld tthe taccused tguilty tof tRape tby tForce tand talso tof Statutory tRape, tand tthe tHigh tCourt thad tupheld tthis tconviction, tthe Supreme tCourt, twhile tacquitting tthe taccused, tfor tthe tfirst ttime unequivocally theld tthat ta tfalse tpromise tto tmarry tcame twithin tthe tambit of tthe tdescription t“secondly” tof tSection t375 ti.e. t“without ther tconsent”. This twas tthe tcase tof Dileep tSingh tv. tState tof tBihar.


While tcoming tto tthis tfirm tconclusion, Dileep tSingh’s judgment tdid tnot consider tany tof tthe targuments traised tin Uday’s tCase. tThe tfact tthat tthe question tof tlaw thad tbeen tleft topen tin Uday’s tCase was talso tnot considered. Dileep tSingh’s judgment, twithout tconsidering tany tof tthe trelevant arguments, went tto thold tthat tthe tdefinition tof tthe tword tconsent tcannot tbe restricted to tSection t90; tand ta tdefinition teven twider tthan tthe tone tgiven tin Section 90 tcan tbe timported tinto tSection t375 tto tdefine tthe toffence tof trape.


It tfinally theld tthat ta trepresentation tdeliberately tmade tby tthe taccused with ta tview tto telicit tthe tassent tof tthe tvictim twithout thaving tthe intention tor tinclination tto tmarry ther, twill tvitiate tthe tconsent tgiven.


The tproposition tof tlaw tlaid tdown tin Dileep tSingh’s tCase is being tfollowed by tcourts tever tsince. tImportant targuments twhich thad tbeen traised tin Uday’s tCase, tbecause tof twhich tthe tCourt tthought tit tcorrect tto tleave tthe question tof tlaw topen, thave tstill tnot tbeen tconsidered tby tany tcourt tin any of tthe tsubsequent tjudgments ton tthe tissue. tWithout tsuch tconsideration, the locus tclassicus on tthe tissue tis titself per tincuriam.