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Jilting a lover, abhorrent as it may seem, not a punishable offence under IPC: Delhi High Court

"It is important to bear in mind that two consenting adults establishing a physical relationship is not a crime. Jilting a lover, however, abhorrent that it may seem to some, is also not an offence punishable under the IPC", said the verdict by justice Vibhu Bakru

The Delhi High Court has ruled that an intimate relationship involving sexual activity over a significant duration of time cannot be said to be induced by the promise of marriage merely because it was asserted that the other party had expressed their intention of getting married.

The Court was hearing an appeal against an order of acquittal passed by an Additional Sessions Judge in a rape case. The Court after taking into account the evidence at hand concluded that the claim made by the accuser that she had relented to having a sexual relationship only due to a promise of marriage was difficult to accept as the first alleged incident of rape occurred two years after the promise was allegedly made. The Court also observed inherent inconsistencies in the testimony of the accuser’s father. Thus, the Delhi High Court upheld the acquittal.

The single-judge bench of Vibhu Bakru also asserted that a sexual relationship between two consenting adults cannot be considered a crime. He said, “It is important to bear in mind that two consenting adults establishing a physical relationship, is not a crime. Jilting a lover, however, abhorrent that it may seem to some, is also not an offence punishable under the IPC.”

The Court added, “In so far as consent to engage in a sexual act is concerned; the campaign ‘no means no’, that was initiated in the 1990s, embodies a universally accepted rule: a verbal ‘no’ is a definite indication of not giving consent to engage in a sexual act. There is now wide acceptance to move ahead from the rule of ‘no means no’ to ‘yes means yes’. Thus, unless there is an affirmative, conscious and voluntary consent to engage in sex; the same would constitute an offence.”

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The Court, however, observed that in certain cases the promise to marry may lead a woman to consent even though the woman may not have been initially willing. But the justification cannot be made in case of a continuous intimate relationship.

“Such inducement in a given moment may elicit consent, even though the concerned party may want to say no. Such false inducement given with the intention to exploit the other party would constitute an offence. However, it is difficult to accept that continuing with an intimate relationship, which also involves engaging in sexual activity, over a significant period of time, is induced and involuntary, merely on the assertion that the other party has expressed its intention to get married,” the judge said.

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