[Rape on pretext of marriage] Ending long, family-approved consensual relationship is not rape: Allahabad High Court

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The Allahabad High Court recently quashed a rape case against a man who was booked after he refused to marry a woman with whom he was in a relationship for several years with her family’s approval [Jiyaullah v State].

The Court was dealing with a plea by the man to quash the criminal case against him for allegedly raping the woman on the false pretext of marriage.

Justice Anish Kumar Gupta allowed the plea after noting that the accused refused to marry her only on account of subsequent developments and that his promise to marry was not a false one when it was made.

“Since, the relationship between the parties was longstanding and the victim as well as her family members knew the consequences of the relationship, therefore, any subsequent breach of such relationship would not amount to the offence of rape u/S 375 IPC,” the Court added.

The judge also noted that the complainant and the accused had been acquainted for over 15 years and that they had been in a physical relationship with the consent of the complainant’s parents for more than 8 years.

“Therefore, there was an active and considered consent by the victim, with the approval of her parents and the physical relationship with her was not against her will,” the Court held.

The complainant-woman had claimed that she had engaged in a relationship with the accused after they met at her sister’s wedding. The complaint said that their relationship evolved over time and that her family eventually exerted pressure on the accused to marry her. However, in 2018, the accused declined to marry her.

The complainant’s counsel contended that for many years, the accused engaged in sexual relations with the complainant on assurance that he would marry her.

In a statement to the police, the complainant also alleged that when their physical relationship began, she was a minor and around 17 years old.

On the other hand, the counsel for accused contended that it was a longstanding consensual relationship between the two which was duly approved by the parents of the complainant. He asserted that no offence was made out against the accused, even going by the complainant’s statements and the first information report (FIR).

To substantiate his arguments, the counsel for the accused relied on a Supreme Court judgment in another case in which the top court held that it was difficult to term an eight-year relationship as “rape”, particularly when the complainant and accused had lived together as “man and wife.”

Having considered the rival arguments, the High Court proceeded to quash the rape case against the accused.

“Even assuming that all the allegations made against the applicant herein are true for the purposes of considering the application for quashing u/S 482 Cr.P.C., no offence u/S 376 is established as the relationship between the parties was of consensual nature and which has an approval of the family as well and the initial promise by the applicant herein was not false,” the Court said.

Advocate Mirza Ali Zulfaqar represented accused. The State was representation by a Government Advocate.

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