Supreme Court has explicitly clarified what is “Rape on Pretext of Marriage” and also cited how several adult women misuse this law, after a consensus relationship goes sour. In the interim, the man is arrested and sent to jail till either courts reverse such lopsided orders.
- 40-year-old Balkrushna Panchal, a resident of Rakhial village in Gandhinagar district, was married with two children, but developed relations with a 21-year-old woman, almost of the same age as his daughters, and impregnated her when they eloped and stayed together in another village in 2017
- However, after 70 days of romance, Panchal and the woman returned to their respective homes
- Sometime later, the woman filed complaints of abduction and rape against Panchal, alleging he abducted and raped her giving false promises of marriage
- The Gandhinagar sessions court found Panchal guilty for luring her for marriage, despite knowing well that it was not possible as he was married
- On August 13 this year, the sessions court sentenced him to seven-year imprisonment
- Panchal, challenged the lower court’s order while filing for a bail application in the Gujarat HC
- The bail application came up for hearing in the High Court last week where the judge, Justice RP Dholaria, questioned whether the accused had established physical relations with the victim on false promise of marriage
- Despite insistence by the prosecution, the judge while going through the statements of the victim before the police and records of her cross-examination found that the victim had repeatedly confessed she was fully aware about the man’s marital status and having children and yet she fell in love with him
- The alleged victim had also confessed that she had eloped with Panchal and established sexual relations with her own will and volition
- The judge found the conviction by the lower court erroneous
- The High Court quashed the trial court’s conviction and ordered his immediate release
Gujarat HC observed,
This need not be termed that her consent was vitiated due to extending the false promises of marriage.
One can always question the moral standing of a married man with two kids having an affair with a girl almost half his age. However, it must also be noted that the court of law does not function on moral grounds which can be highly subjective matter. In this case, the man was surely lucky to have got a hearing and then bail within 1.5 months from the High Court. In several cases, men spend years in jail, only to be acquitted at a later stage.
Charges of rape are extremely serious and women who willingly develop relationships fully understanding the personal status of the man, should not misuse the applicable law just to teach the man a lesson. Such charges completely dilute the sanctity of the rape law for genuine victims.