The Supreme Court quashed criminal proceedings against the rape accused saying that it is a case of consensual relationship which went sour leading to lodging of FIR against him.

The Court was dealing with a criminal appeal filed by the accused against the judgment of the Madhya Pradesh High Court dismissing his criminal revision petition.

The two-Judge Bench of Justice Abhay S. Oka and Justice Ujjal Bhuyan observed, “… there is hardly any possibility of conviction of the appellant. As a matter of fact, it is not even a case which can stand trial. It appears to be a case of a consensual relationship which had gone sour leading to lodging of FIR. In the circumstances, Court is of the view that compelling the appellant to face the criminal trial on these materials would be nothing but an abuse of the process of the Court, result of the trial being a foregone conclusion.”

The Bench said that the physical relationship between the prosecutrix and the accused cannot be said to be against her will and without her consent and hence, no case of rape or of criminal intimidation is made out.

AOR Abhinav Ramkrishna represented the appellant while DAG Harmeet Ruprah represented the respondents.

Factual Background -

The prosecution case was that the prosecutrix lodged an FIR in 2018 alleging that in 2016, the appellant (accused) used to show photographs of hers and tell her to come to Gwalior with him otherwise he would upload the same on WhatsApp. Due to such fear, she came along with him and he committed wrongful act on her. Thereafter, he forcefully took her signature on an affidavit in which it was mentioned that she would live with him for life. The appellant told the victim that he would marry her after his brother’s marriage.

But after the marriage of the appellant’s brother, when the victim broached the topic of marriage, he demanded Rs. 15 lakhs in return. When he started threatening her, she filed an FIR against him. The appellant filed an application under Section 227 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) before the Sessions Judge seeking his discharge but the same was dismissed. The criminal revision filed by the appellant before the High Court against the order of the Sessions Judge by which it framed charges under Sections 376(2)(n) and 506 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), was rejected. Hence, he was before the Supreme Court.

The Apex Court in the above context of the case noted, “We have carefully gone through the definition of rape provided under Section 375 IPC. We have also gone through the provisions of Section 376(2)(n) IPC, which deals with the offence of rape committed repeatedly on the same woman. Section 375 IPC defines ‘rape’ by a man if he does any of the acts in terms of clauses (a) to (d) under the seven descriptions mentioned therein. As per the second description, a man commits rape if he does any of the acts as mentioned in clauses (a) to (d) without the consent of the woman. Consent has been defined in Explanation 2 to mean an unequivocal voluntary agreement when the woman by words, gestures or any form of verbal or non-verbal communication, communicates willingness to participate in the specific sexual act.”

The Court added that the proviso thereto clarifies that a woman who does not physically resist to the act of penetration shall not by the reason only of that fact, be regarded as consenting to the sexual activity.

“Section 90 IPC says that a consent is not such a consent as it is intended by any section of IPC, if the consent is given by a person under the fear of injury or under a misconception of fact. … This Court also examined the interplay between Section 375 IPC and Section 90 IPC in the context of consent in the case of Pramod Suryabhan Pawar Vs. State of Maharashtra, (2019) 9 SCC 608, and held that consent with respect to Section 375 IPC involves an active understanding of the circumstances, actions and consequences of the proposed act. An individual who makes a reasoned choice to act after evaluating various alternative actions (or inaction) as well as the various possible consequences flowing from such action (or inaction), consents to such action”, it enunciated.

The Court further took note of the fact that the prosecutrix had accompanied the appellant to a temple, where she had voluntarily taken bath under a waterfall and her allegation that appellant had surreptitiously taken photographs of her while she was bathing and later on changing clothes and was blackmailing her with such photographs remain unfounded in the absence of seizure of such photographs or the mobile phone on which such photographs were taken by the appellant.

“If, indeed, she was under some kind of threat from the appellant, it defies any logic, when the prosecutrix accompanied the appellant to Gwalior from Dabra, a journey which they had made together by train. On reaching Gwalior, she accompanied the appellant on a scooter to a rented premises at Anupam Nagar, where she alleged that appellant had forced himself upon her. But she did not raise any alarm or hue and cry at any point of time. Rather, she returned back to Dabra alongwith the appellant. The relationship did not terminate there. It continued even thereafter. … As already pointed out above, neither the affidavit nor stamp papers have been recovered or seized by the police; so also the jewellery. The alleged cheque of the prosecutrix’s mother given to the appellant or the bank statement to indicate transfer of such money have not been gathered by the police. In the absence of such materials, the entire sub-stratum of the prosecutrix’s case collapses”, it also observed.

The Court, therefore, culled out the following relevant features of the case –

(i) the relationship between the appellant and the prosecutrix was of a consensual nature;

(ii) the parties were in a relationship for a period of almost two years; and

(iii) though there were talks between the parties and their family members regarding marriage, the same did not fructify leading to lodging of FIR.

Accordingly, the Supreme Court allowed the appeal, set aside the impugned judgment, and quashed the proceedings against the appellant.

Cause Title- Shiv Pratap Singh Rana v. State of Madhya Pradesh & Anr. (Neutral Citation: 2024 INSC 481)


Appellant: AOR Abhinav Ramkrishna and Advocate Amit Lahoti.

Respondents: DAG Harmeet Ruprah, AOR Yashraj Singh Bundela, Advocate Pratima Singh, and AOR Gp. Capt. Karan Singh Bhati.

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