Home » News » Supreme Court Quashes Rape Case Involving False Promise to Marry

In a recent development, the Supreme Court of India presided over by Justices Abhay S Oka and Pankaj Mithal, heard a case involving the offence of rape under the pretext of a false promise to marry, as per the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC). The case in question, Sheikh Arif v. The State of Maharashtra & Anr., was ultimately dismissed by the court.

The case originated from a complaint lodged by the second respondent on 23rd February 2018, at Sadar Police Station, Nagpur. The complaint detailed an acquaintance that began in 2011 when the second respondent was employed at a beauty parlour where the appellant was enrolled in a hair-cutting course. The appellant allegedly proposed in June 2011, leading to subsequent meetings and an intimate relationship under the false promise of marriage.

The second respondent became pregnant twice during their relationship, with the appellant arranging for an abortion the first time. Despite their engagement in July 2017, the appellant continued the affair. When the second respondent became pregnant again in December 2017, the appellant promised marriage, leading her to decide against an abortion. However, she later discovered the appellant’s engagement to another woman and his subsequent marriage in February 2018.

The appellant claimed they had a Nikah ceremony on 20th January 2017, supported by a seized copy of the Nikahnama and his passport, which listed the second respondent as his wife since 17th August 2017.

The court observed, “If it is established that from the inception, the consent by the victim is a result of a false promise to marry, there will be no consent, and in such a case, the offence of rape will be made out.” The appellant offered Rs. 10 lakhs during the case’s pendency, but settlement attempts failed.
Upon evaluating the case, the court referenced IPC Section 375, highlighting non-consensual consent due to false promises. The second respondent, over 18 at the start of the relationship, engaged with the appellant from 2011, with physical relations from 2012-2017. She filed a complaint in 2018 after discovering the appellant’s marriage.

Despite the missing original Nikahnama, its existence was affirmed, and the second respondent acknowledged the engagement. The court deemed continued prosecution an abuse of process. The appellant was directed to pay Rs. 5 lakhs, affirming marital status, with further monetary arrangements for the child. The appeal was upheld, and proceedings quashed, pending compliance and future rights preservation.

Rape, as defined under the IPC, is one of the most heinous crimes against women, with far-reaching physical, emotional, and psychological consequences. Section 375 of the IPC delineates the definition of rape and outlines the circumstances under which sexual intercourse or sexual acts are deemed non-consensual and therefore, criminal. These conditions include instances where consent is obtained through coercion or deception, or when the woman is unable to give consent due to intoxication, unsoundness of mind, or being under the age of consent.

Elements of the Offence

To establish the offence of rape under the IPC, certain key elements must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. These elements typically include the absence of consent, the presence of force, coercion, or deception, and the sexual penetration of the victim. Furthermore, the law recognizes that consent must be given voluntarily and with a full understanding of the nature of the act, without any fear or duress.

Legal Penalties and Punishments

The IPC prescribes stringent penalties for individuals convicted of rape, recognizing the gravity of the offence and its impact on the victim. The severity of the punishment varies depending on the circumstances of the case, including the age of the victim, the use of force or violence, and the presence of aggravating factors such as gang rape or repeat offences.


In 2013, significant amendments were made to the IPC regarding rape laws through the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, following the Mukesh & Anr v. State for NCT of Delhi & Ors (2017). These amendments introduced more stringent penalties, including the death penalty in cases of rape resulting in the victim’s death or leaving her in a persistent vegetative state. These changes reflect the evolving understanding of the severity and impact of such crimes and the need for justice to be served in a manner commensurate with the offence.

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