Engagement does not give prospective groom right to sexually exploit fiancée: Punjab & Haryana High Court

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The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Monday held that a couple being engaged and meeting each other did not give the prospective bridegroom the right or liberty to sexually exploit his fiancée without her consent [Sagar Kapoor v State of Haryana].

Justice Vivek Puri made the observation while refusing to the grant anticipatory bail to a man accused of rape by his fiancée.

“The petitioner cannot get any leverage to physically exploit the fiancée against the consent during the period intervening the engagement and the marriage”, the single-judge said.

He pertinently recorded that passive submission by a survivor could not be construed as a circumstance to hold that it was a case of a consensual relationship.

“In the instant case, there is a categoric statement of the prosecutrix that the petitioner entered into physical relationship with her, despite her reluctance, refusal and denial,” the Court observed.

The survivor had claimed that after the couple’s Roka ceremony in January 2022 they began meeting often, and the prospective groom was insistent on having a physical relationship with the survivor, however she refused each time.

As per the complaint, in June 2022 he took the survivor to a hotel on the pretext of getting some rest and despite her denial of consent, entered into a physical relationship with her, thus committing rape.

He also made videos of her, it was alleged.

Later, he expressed his unwillingness to marry the survivor.

On the other hand, the petitioner’s counsel sought anticipatory bail, stating that the marriage was called off by the petitioner after he became aware of the survivor’s love affairs with others.

It was also argued that the physical relationship between the two was consensual, and there was no rape.

Justice Puri, however, noted that at no point was it borne out that the survivor voluntarily consented to sexual intercourse, or that it was a case of consensual relationship.

It was further highlighted that there was lack of material to indicate that there was a genuine intention on the part of the petitioner to solemnise marriage or that the survivor was a consenting party at the time.

“In the peculiar circumstances of the case, it is not made out that it was a case of consensual relationship,” the court concluded while refusing anticipatory bail.

Senior advocate Anmol Rattan Sidhu and advocate Pratham Sethi represented the petitioner, while advocate Namit Khurana represented the complainant and advocate Trishanjali Sharma appeared for the State.

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