Breach of promise to marry not cheating under Section 420 IPC: Karnataka High Court

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The Karnataka High Court recently reitarated that a breach of the promise to marry is not cheating under the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Justice K Natarajan quashed an FIR against a man and his family, holding that a breach of promise to marry does not constitute an offence of cheating under Sections 417 and 420 of the IPC.

” … continuing the proceedings or investigation against the petitioners is an abuse of process law” the single-Judge thus observed.

The complainant had filed a case, alleging that she met the man 8 years ago, they both fell in love and he agreed to marry her. However, as his family supported his marriage with another woman, he left the complainant and married the other woman instead.

The complainant thus filed a complaint against the petitioner for offences punishable under Sections 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), 506 (criminal intimidation) with Section 34 (acts done by several persons with a common intention) of the IPC.

The counsel for the petitioner argued that a mere promise to marry which is breached does not constitute an offender under Section 415 (cheating) of the IPC. Further, after the case was filed in May 2020, there had been no investigation by the police, and the case was filed only to harass the man and his family, he contended.

The Court relied upon a Madras High Court judgement KU Prabhuraj v. State by Sub Inspector of Police AWPS Tambaram and Anr and a judgement of the Supreme Court in SW Palanitkar and Ors. v. State of Bihar and Anr, where it was held that a breach of contract cannot give rise to a criminal prosecution for cheating unless there it is shown that there was a dishonest intention in the beginning and at the time when the offence was allegedly committed.

“A promise of marriage and breach of contract will not attract the provisions of Section 417 and 420 of the IPC,” the Court said, while allowing the petition.

Advocate NS Sriraj Gowda appeared for the petitioner, and advocate Mahesh Shetty represented the State of Karnataka.

Read Order here:

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