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Is a false promise same as the breach of promise?

Court name – Hon’ble Supreme Court of India

Judgement Name – Naim Ahamed v. State (NCT of Delhi)

Judgement date – 30.01.2023

Judges/bench –Ajay Rastogi, Bela M. Trivedi

 

Introduction –

The law has become a tool to take revenge or to extort money for women. It is a new norm to file a fake complaint and demand a hefty amount of money. As per the statistics by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), about 74% of rape cases under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code end up acquitting the accused.

Moreover, 30% of cases are filed by women who claim that intercourse occurred after a false promise of marriage. It is very saddening to
see that people are misusing the laws meant for women’s protection and safety.

 

Brief facts of the Case –

In the present case, the prosecutrix was a married woman having three children. She developed sexual relations with the accused, got impregnated by the accused, and delivered a male child in October 2011. The prosecutrix and her husband took divorce by mutual consent in 2014. On 21st March 2015, the prosecutrix lodged a complaint against the accused, alleging that she had consented to the sexual relationship with the accused as he had promised her to marry and subsequently did not marry. The session court convicted the appellant under Section 376 of IPC and sentenced him to ten years imprisonment with a fine of Rs.50,000/-and compensation of Rs.5,00,000/-. The Delhi High court modified the order by reducing the sentence to 7 years with a fine of Rs.5,000/- and confirmed the direction concerning the payment of compensation . Thereafter, the appellant (accused) filed an appeal in Supreme Court against these orders.

 

Contentions of the Plaintiff/ –

Prosecutrix has stated that the accused has persuaded by stating that her husband was not earning sufficient income and that he (the accused) had a good job and he would maintain her according to her status. She consented to sexual relations with the accused, believing that he would marry her. She further alleged that the accused stated that he was not a married man.

 

Contentions of the Defendant/s

Accused denied the allegations by stating that he had consensual relations with the prosecutrix. He further stated that the prosecutrix was aware of his marriage and children, and she also met his wife. He also stated that he was providing financial help regularly to the prosecutrix, and when he refused to fulfil her demand of Rs.1.5 lakh to Rs.2 lakhs, she lodged a false case against him.

 

Principles and observations of the Court –

(a) Principle 1 –Difference between a false promise and a breach of promise The court ruled that it is improper to punish someone for the offence under Section 376 and treat every breach of promise to marry as a false promise. Each case would depend on the court- proven facts that were presented.  “In case of false promise, the accused right from the beginning would not have any intention
to marry the prosecutrix and would have cheated or deceited the prosecutrix by giving a false promise to marry her only with a view to satisfy his lust, whereas in case of breach of promise, one cannot deny a possibility that the accused might have given a promise with all seriousness to marry her, and subsequently might have encountered certain circumstances unforeseen by him or the circumstances beyond his control, which prevented him to fulfill his promise.”

(b) Principle 2 –Recording of evidence, The deposition of the prosecutrix was recorded by the trial court in the English language though
she had deposed in her vernacular language. Therefore, the court said that evidence could be appreciated best only when it is recorded in the language of the witness.

The judges made a reference to Section 276 and Section 277 of CrPC. and reminded all the Courts to comply with the said provisions duly.

 

Judgement held –

After hearing the both sides, The Supreme court appreciated the difference between giving a false promise and committing a breach of promise and found the fallacy on the parts of the courts below. The court said that it is not necessary that every breach of promise to marry is a false promise, and it would be incorrect to prosecute someone for rape. The court also said that the prosecutrix was a mature woman and could not be said to have acted under the alleged false promise. It was only when some disputes arose between them that she filed the complaint.

The accused was acquitted of the charges levelled against him. Additionally, the direction for payment of compensation given by the courts below shall remain unchanged as the appellant had accepted the responsibility of the child, and has also paid the amount of compensation to the prosecutrix.

 

Opinion –

A subtle difference between a False Promise to Marry and a Breach of Promise to Marry in the context of Rape Laws can be clearly seen in this case. The courts below failed to examine this difference. According to the prosecutrix, her consent was under the misconception of fact(Section 90 of IPC). However, she continued to have a relationship with the accused for at least five years until she gave a complaint in 2015.viii It is a case where the relationship turned sour, and the prosecutrix initiated proceedings under Section 376 of IPC against the accused. Due diligence is required on the part of the judiciary while framing charges. Courts and police must ensure the proper implementation of laws and make sure that the laws are not turned into weapons to strike vengeance. It is a pity to see the courts themselves not following the laws. So, the courts need to duly comply with the relevant provisions while recording evidence, as stressed by the Supreme Court in the present case.

 

Written By: Stuti Nayak

College Name: Himachal Pradesh National Law University, Shimla (1st Semester)

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