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Jayanti Rana Panda v State of West Bengal

CASE NUMBER

Appeal case filed in Calcutta High Court against the order of acquittal passed by Session Court of Midnapore in trial no 18 of March, 1980.

EQUIVALENT CITATIONS

1984 CriLJ 1535

BENCH

B. Chakrabarthi, J. Chaudhri

DECIDED ON

16 June, 1983

RELEVANT SECTION/ ACT

Indian Penal Code, 1860

Section 90 of the Indian Penal Code states that a consent is not a consent if given by the person under fear of misconception and injury or consent of a person who is of an unsound mind or intoxication unable to understand the nature and consequence of which he has given consent or consent of child unless contrary appears from context if the consent is given by the person who is under twelve years of age.

Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code states the punishment of rape offence except in sub-clause (2) any person proved to commit rape shall be punished with imprisonment that may not be less than seven years but for life or for a term that extends to ten years and also liable with fine unless the women raped was his own wife and is not under twelve years of age, in which he shall be punished with the imprisonment of term extended to two years or with fine or with both. Only in the special case of judgment, the imprisonment would be less than seven years.

FACTS OF THE CASE

It is the case where the de facto complaint is filed against the order of the acquittal passed by the Additional Sessions Judge acquitting the accused charged with section 376 of the Indian Penal Code.

In August 1978, the complainant filed a police report saying that the accused opposite party No. 2, a teacher at the nearby village school, used to visit her home and one day while the complainant’s parents were away from the house, told her he loved her and that he wanted to marry her. The complainant requested that the marriage be consummated. The person is accused of promising to do so and that he would personally secure her parents’ approval. Relying on this promise, she began living with the accused. This cohabitation lasted for a couple of months, during which time the accused would frequently drop by her home at odd hours and occasionally spend the night with her. She eventually became pregnant, and when she requested that the marriage take place as soon as possible, the accused suggested having the child aborted in exchange for agreeing to marry the complaint after the Panchayat elections. The accused eventually abandoned the commitment and ceased coming to the complainant’s house because she had refused to have an abortion. Debra P.S. Case No. 20 was started based on this accusation. The accused asserted his innocence and said that the accusation was brought against him by a political competitor in an effort to extort money from him; the accuser was a woman of easy virtue.

At the trial stage, it was to be seen whether the age of the consent was there and whether the consent was fraudulently obtained by section 90 of the Penal Code. The judge observed that even when there is a whole false promise is given yet the accused is not liable for the rape offence as the consent of intercourse is not given based on the misconception of fact. There is no concept of fake marriage. The accused did not come under the provision of section 376 of Indian Penal Code so the accused was acquitted. The petitioner has filed a revisional application and obtained the rule

ISSUE

  1. Whether the girl was below the age of giving consent or not?
  2. Whether the consent was obtained fraudulently or using any force or coercion and was hit by section 90 of the Indian Penal Code?

JUDGMENT

During the trial, two questions were asked about the age of the girl; whether the girl was below the age of consent for intercourse or not; and whether there was any fraud in obtaining the consent of the girl or whether the consent of the girl was acquired by the use of any force or coercion. Firstly, on the question of the age of the girl to give consent for this sexual intercourse, it was clear from the trial that the girl was over 16 years old at the time of the commission of the offence by the accused, as claimed by the accused. Regarding the other issue, whether the complainant’s alleged consent fell under the scope of Section 90 of the Penal Code, the learned Judge made the following observation: Given the circumstances of the case, even if it is assumed that a wholly false promise was made, the accused could not be held accountable for the crime of rape because the accused’s consent to the alleged intercourse was not given under a “misconception of fact” as defined by Section 90 of the Penal Code.

His exact finding is “In terms of the Code, a false promise is not a fact. If the accused had ravished the girl while pretending to be the girl’s husband or in a false marriage, the situation might have been different.” The learned Judge concluded that the act done by the accused did not fall under the purview of the Penal Code and, as a result, cleared him of the offence under Section 376 of the IPC. The failure to maintain the promise of marriage does not come under the misconception of fact under section 90 of the Indian Penal Code. In order to come up with the meaning of misconception, there must be proper evidence. This matter would be held differently if there is a belief made that they are already married. If a fully grown girl consents for sexual relationship and the sexual relationship continues until she becomes pregnant it is not an act induced in section 90 of the Penal Code that is the misconception of fact.  The revision application failed.

This article is written by Sree Lekshmi B J; third-year law student of Sastra University, Thanjavur.

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