Kerala High Court delivered a noteworthy judgment on when sex on the promise of marriage can amount to rape.

In the case of Ramachandran @ Chandran v State of Kerala, a Division Bench of Justices A Muhamed Mustaque and Dr. Kauser Edappagath was hearing an appeal moved by a man against the order of a trial court that had convicted him for an offense under Section 376 of the IPC and sentenced to undergo imprisonment for life and to pay a fine of ₹50,000. The Court set aside the appellant’s conviction and sentence and held that sex on a promise to marry will amount to rape only if the accused has violated the decisional autonomy of the victim.


The Court said that sexual autonomy is a natural right of a woman which the legislature intends to protect as well. Upon a combined reading of Section 90 of the IPC and Section 114-A of the Indian Evidence Act, the Court held that if the material facts which might affect consent are not revealed to the partner, the consent so obtained would violate the decisional autonomy of the woman which is envisaged under section 375 of the IPC.


Applying the same to the facts of the case, the Court said that merely for the reason that the accused contracted another marriage immediately after the sexual act with the victim cannot give rise to the presumption of lack of consent. The court noted that the sexual act committed by the accused was with the real intention to marry the victim but he could not hold onto his promise due to resistance from his family.


In the absence of any other evidence on the side of the prosecution, the conduct of the accused can only be treated as a breach of promise. It, therefore, set aside the conviction of a man for the offense of rape under Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code.

Blog By: Shimona Singh Kulhara

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