The Delhi High Court directed the Sessions Court to frame rape charge against a man who entered into a physical relationship with a married woman after promising her and her husband that he will marry her.

The Court was deciding a revision petition filed by the woman against the decision of the Additional Sessions Judge by which the accused was discharged of offence under Sections 376 and 506 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

A Single Bench of Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma said, “It is thus a case of twin promise of marriage, i.e. to the complainant as well as her husband and family. Had he not promised or represented to her, she would not have entered into physical relations with him. It is to be proved during trial whether it was breach of promise to marry or false promise to marry for the purpose of sexual relationship and a mini trial could not have been conducted to reach this decision at the stage of framing of charge itself.”

The Bench took note of the fact that the accused had given promise to the victim to get married to her and had stayed with her on this promise acting on which she had not only divorced her husband but had also indulged in sexual relationship with him to attract the rigors of Section 376 of IPC.

Advocate Samridhi Arora represented the petitioner while APP Naresh Kumar Chahar represented the respondents.

Brief Facts -

The allegations against the accused were that the victim had lodged a complaint in which she had stated that she was a divorcee and a mother of two kids. She disclosed that she had planned to marry the accused who was living in Canada and that they were in relationship since the year 2016. The accused promised her that he would marry her and had come to India and met her for the first time in 2017 and established physical relations with her which continued on several occasions. As alleged, whenever the victim used to stop him from establishing physical relations, he used to promise that he would marry her after obtaining divorce from his first wife and it was also alleged that he mentally harassed her.

The accused regularly pressurized the victim to obtain divorce from her husband and further even talked to her first husband assuring him that he would take care of the victim and her children. In 2020, he had come to India and lived with her at her house for 25 days, where he sexually harassed her and further told her that he would not marry her if she did not establish physical relations with him. Further, the accused’s family also initially forced the victim to marry their son, however, later denied to get their son married to her. In 2021, the accused refused to get married to victim and also threatened to kill her children. Hence, an FIR was registered but the Sessions Court discharged him on the ground that this case pertains to breach of promise of marriage, rather than a false promise of marriage.

The High Court in view of the facts and circumstances of the case observed, “It is thus necessary for the Courts to scrutinize the unique facts and circumstances of each case, with the objective of ascertaining whether a prima facie case is made out against an accused. This determination serves as the litmus test for framing charges against an accused. At the stage of framing of charge, the Courts are required to give due consideration to the material placed on record along with the investigation and the facts determined therefrom. Notably, at this juncture, the Courts are not vested with the authority to delve into the probative value of evidence, nor they are permitted to engage in a mini-trial.”

It said that the court’s role remains circumscribed and confined to the determination of whether there exists a prima facie case and suspicion against the accused that justifies the framing of charges.

“While taking note of the above-mentioned judicial precedents, this Court has sacrificed the beauty of brevity of this judgment, so that once for all, the entire law on charge and discharge is assimilated in one judgment to work as a guiding judgment, which may be looked into by the judges in the District Courts. This Court has been forced to observe so, since this Court remains flooded with petitions assailing orders vide which charges are framed or accused is discharged, while not following the principles of charge and discharge articulated and enumerated in the various judgments of the Hon’ble Apex Court”, the Court added.

Furthermore, the Court noted that the cases involving emotional situations where the parties of the story have taken decisions and acted upon them based on the peculiar circumstances of their lives, have to be adjudged and adjudicated according to their own peculiarity and situational dissection of facts.

“While this Court does not intend to engage in moral policing and commenting on the conduct of petitioner and respondent no. 2 regarding continuing their relationship with each other, though they were still lawfully married to their respective partners, irrespective of the fact that they were allegedly unhappily married, this Court cannot also ignore that their respective partners, now ex-partners, were also aware about their relationship and their intention to get married to each other once they were divorced from them”, it also said.

The Court observed that strangely, the accused had given promise of marriage not only to the victim but also to her then legally married husband and her family that after divorce from him, he will not only marry her, but also look after the children born to her and her then legally married husband.

“The Mangalsutra which was prepared with the initials of name of the respondent no. 2 herein and for which he had paid for, would also reflect and point out towards his intention and promise to marry the present petitioner. Needless to say, in India, Mangalsutra for many women is not an ornament but a symbol of love, sacred union and assurance for a lifetime of togetherness with their partner”, it emphasised.

The Court, therefore, concluded that there is sufficient material on record to frame charge against the accused under Sections 376 and 506 of IPC.

Accordingly, the High Court disposed of the petition, set aside the order of the Sessions Court, and directed it to frame charge against the accused.

Cause Title- X v. State (NCT of Delhi) and Anr. (Neutral Citation: 2024:DHC:22)


Petitioner: Advocates Sanjana and Tanya Singh

Respondents: Advocate Shekhar

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