The Bombay High Court has ruled that refusal to marry a woman after having physical relations for a long time with mutual consent, does not amount to cheating. The High Court’s judgment came after it overturned a lower court order convicting the man of cheating based on a woman’s FIR alleging that the accused had a sexual relationship with her on the pretext of marriage but subsequently declined to marry her. The High Court acquitted the man citing lack of evidence to prove that the accused did not intend to marry her since inception.
In its judgment, the HC said, “The evidence of PW1- Prosecutrix reveals that the accused was known to her. She had a sexual relationship with the accused for over about 3 years. Evidence of PW2- sister of the prosecutrix also reveals that there was a love affair between the accused and the prosecutrix. The evidence on record thus indicates that the sexual relationship between the prosecutrix and the accused was consensual. The accused has been held guilty of an offence under Section 417 of the IPC solely for the reason that he refused to marry the prosecutrix. The question is whether in such circumstances refusal to marry constitutes an offence of cheating.”
It further said, “There is no evidence on record to indicate that since the inception, accused did not intend to marry her. In the absence of evidence to prove that the prosecutrix had consented for physical relationship on a misconception of fact, as stipulated under Section 90 of IPC, the mere refusal to marry would not constitute an offence under Section 417 of the IPC.”
The accused was booked under sections 376 and 417 for rape and cheating based on the victim’s complaint. The lower court had convicted the accused for cheating but acquitted him of the rape charge in February 1999. He was sentenced to one-year imprisonment. The accused had then approached the Bombay High Court against the verdict.