Sex Between Live-in Partners With Mutual Consent Not Rape if Man Breaks Marriage Promise: Supreme Court of India
File image of the Supreme Court of India | (Photo Credits: PTI)

New Delhi, January 3: If live-in partners have sex with mutual consent and the man later fails to marry due to circumstances beyond his control, the woman cannot accuse him of rape, the Supreme Court of India held on Wednesday. The apex court said rape charges cannot be invoked if the man breaks the promise to marry after having consensual sex as it would be a case of breach of promise rather than a case of a false promise to marry.

The top court made the remarks while quashing criminal proceedings against a government doctor from Maharashtra, who was accused of rape by a nurse working under him. The nurse was in a live-in relationship with the doctor. "There is a clear distinction between rape and consensual sex," a bench of Justices A K Sikri and S Abdul Nazeer said. The bench said there is a difference between breaching a promise and making a false one for fulfilling sexual desires. Non-Consensual Sex With Wife is Not Rape, Subjecting Oral & Unnatural Sex is Cruelty: Gujarat High Court.

"The court, in such cases, must very carefully examine whether the complainant had actually wanted to marry the victim or had mala fide motives and had made a false promise to this effect only to satisfy his lust, as the later falls within the ambit of cheating or deception," the court said, as reported by a leading daily.

"There may be a case where the prosecutrix agrees to have sexual intercourse on account of her love and passion for the accused and not solely on account of the misconception created by accused, or where an accused, on account of circumstances which he could not have foreseen or which were beyond his control, was unable to marry her despite having every intention to do. Such cases must be treated differently," the court further clarified.

The observations from the apex court came while hearing the doctor's plea to quash the FIR lodged against him. In her complaint, the nurse said she was in a live-in relationship after falling in love with him and indulged in a physical relationship as he promised to marry her. She lodged the case after the doctor married another woman. After the Bombay High Court had rejected his plea, the doctor approached the Supreme Court.

While hearing the plea, the court pointed out that the woman herself admitted that she had fallen in love with him and started living with him without marriage. "It is not her case that he has forcibly raped her. She had taken a conscious decision after active application of mind to the things that had happened. It is not a case of a passive submission in the face of any psychological pressure exerted and there was a tacit consent and the tacit consent given by her was not the result of a misconception created in her mind," the court said.

"We are of the view that, even if the allegations made in the complaint are taken at their face value and accepted in their entirety, they do not make out a case against the appellant," the court added.