Gurcharan Singh
Asked February 23, 2017

Breaking off Engagment

  • 1 Answer
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My son got engaged last month.. After the engagement we come to know that girls family is not good for us so we call of the engagement but girls family is not ready to compromise. We are ready to bear their expenses incurred on the function.can they put cheating case on us..what are the legal implications involved in breaking off engagement . Please help

Answer 1

Promise to marry has slowly gained a statutory implication in Indian judiciary today. It has often been observed that women, especially from rural areas are deceived by a promise to marry in order to obtain consent for actions, they otherwise would not have consented to. In such a scenario, the victims resort to seeking justice in the hands of law. The response will give you an overview of different avenues which have been known to create legal issues after the termination of a relationship. The main grievances which have been raised by victims in such cases have been the following:

a) Whether consensual sexual intercourse under pretence of promise to marry would amount to rape.

b) Whether compensation can be claimed for any mental harassment caused as a result of promise to marry.

c) Whether damages can be claimed for breakup of relationship without engagement, including live-in relationships, where promise to marry has been made.

 

Whether consensual sexual intercourse under pretence of promise to marry would amount to rape.

An important aspect relating to promise of marriage is whether consensual sex during this period will amount to rape in case one falls back on the promise to marry. The key essence of this being, as per Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, whoever engages in sexual intercourse with a person without her consent shall be charged to have committed rape. The contention often held is that, since a person obtains consent on the premise of promising to marry, such consent can be viewed as having been obtained via misconception of fact as per Section 90 of the Indian Penal Code and hence does not amount to consent. Although, Justice Mridula Bhatkar, pronounced in a case presented before the Bombay High Court, that consensual sexual intercourse under pretence of promise to marry would not amount to rape. However, she held that, damages must be awarded to the victim for such a breach of promise. In such cases where consent is obtained under fraudulent promise to marry, the court has often ruled in favour of the victim and has sought to award damages.

In Dilip Kumar vs State Of Bihar [(2005) 1 SCC 88], the Supreme Court held that,

We cannot ignore the reprehensible conduct of the appellant, who by promising to marry the victim woman, persuaded her to have sexual relations and caused pregnancy. The act of the accused left behind her a trail of misery, ignominy and trauma. The only solace is that she married subsequently. We are informed that the female child born out of the illicit relationship is now living with her married mother and she is about 14 year old now. Though there is no evidence to establish beyond reasonable doubt that the appellant made a false or fraudulent promise to marry, there can be no denial of the fact that the appellant did commit breach of the promise to marry, for which the accused is prima facie accountable for damages under civil law.

Therefore, in case of sexual intercourse before marriage between your son and the girl may create a possible situation for her to claim legal benefit if she can prove that the promise of marriage was made to gain sexual favor.

Whether compensation can be claimed for any mental harassment caused as a result of promise to marry.

The promise to marry can also subject the victim to misery, mental trauma and damage to reputation. Often victims have prayed for damages for such mental agony caused as a result of breach of promise to marry. The court has observed in a number of cases wherein they held that, it is a matter of extreme hardship for a girl to be accepted back into the society after she has indulged in sexual relations with a person who has promised to marry her, and then later falls back on such promise. The court stipulates that damages must be provided to relieve the girl of such mental distraught. In the case of Dilip Kumar, the Supreme Court had held that the breach of promise to marry left the victim with ‘a trail of misery, ignominy and trauma.’ Hence the court had directed the accused to initiate a payment of Rs. 50,000 as damages towards the victim.

 

Whether damages can be claimed for breakup of relationship without engagement, including live-in relationships, where promise to marry has been made.

In certain cases even though there has been no formal engagement between the two parties, however a promise of marriage has been made and the two parties maybe residing together in the newly recognised live- in relationship format. In these cases, the court has sort to rule in favour of victim, especially in case wherein, such a format relationship leads to pregnancy. In such a case both the parties will be responsible for maintaining the child.  However for other circumstances arising out of such relationship the apex court has on numerous occasions propounded that no legal implications arise out of such an arrangement even so that no partner can be held guilty for infidelity.

In Alok Kumar vs. State of Delhi, in Crl. M. C No. 299/2009 the Delhi High Court held that,

Live­in relationship' is a walk­in and walk­out relationship. There are no strings attached to this relationship, neither this relationship creates any legal bond between the parties. It is a contract of living together which is renewed every day by the parties and can be terminated by either of the parties without consent of the other party and one party can walk out at will at any time.’

In the present scenario, the Indian Judicial system is paving its way at establishing a methodology in order to ensure that no person may take advantage of the innocence of another party on the basis of promise to marry. The courts have achieved this by awarding damages to people who have fallen prey to this promise of marriage and have as a result been subjected to mental agony, societal exclusion, and extreme remorse for such breach of trust.

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