'Relationship Does Not Justify Sexual Assault': Bombay High Court

'Relationship Does Not Justify Sexual Assault': Bombay High Court

Court refuses to quash FIR against a man who allegedly raped his neighbour on marriage pretext

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Saturday, June 29, 2024, 01:48 AM IST
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A relationship between two adults does not justify sexual assault by one on his partner, observed the Bombay High Court (HC) on Friday. It made the remark, while refusing to quash an FIR against a man who allegedly raped his neighbour on the pretext of marriage.

The HC also noted that a relationship may be consensual in the beginning and the same may change. When one partner shows unwillingness to indulge in a sexual relationship, the character of the relationship ceases to exist as ‘consensual’, the court underlined.

As per the case, the woman divorced her husband and was residing with her four-year-old son in Karad, Satara. Her parents passed away in 2021 during Covid. The accused came to live on rent in a neighbour’s house and they became intimate friends, with the man promising to marry her.

Despite the woman's consistent refusal, he raped her in July 2022 and even introduced her to his parents. Later, he started avoiding her. When she asked his parents regarding their marriage, they allegedly abused her, saying she belonged to a different caste hence there was no question of marriage. The victim said that the man also abused her and threatened to kill her and her son.

The accused's advocate claimed that there was no question of marriage since the woman was already married. Also, the FIR was filed after a delay of 13 months. The advocate asserted that a sexual relationship between willing adult partners is not a rape unless the consent was obtained by a fraudulent act or misrepresentation by one of them. There is no wrongdoing even if the sexual relationship between the willing partners does not culminate into marriage, the advocate argued.

The woman’s lawyer pointed out the medico-legal examination report of sexual violence, which clearly mentions that “forcible sexual intercourse cannot be ruled out”. The bench said that the FIR clearly states that although there was an intimate relationship, the man performed sexual intercourse forcibly.

A bench of Justices Ajey Gadkari and Neela Gokhale said that the FIR specifies that there was no continuous consent on the part of the woman. “The allegations demonstrate that even though the complainant was desirous of being married with the petitioner, she definitely was not inclined to indulge in sexual relationship,” the court added. The accusations in the FIR prima facie constitute the commission of the alleged offense, said the HC.

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