Ed­u­cated woman over 18 can’t al­lege rape if she con­sents to sex, says HC

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - HT Correspondent ht­metro@hin­dus­tan­times.com

If a woman is ed­u­cated and over 18 years, but still does not ex­er­cise her right to say “no” to a sex­ual re­la­tion­ship, she can­not al­lege rape when the re­la­tion­ship turns sour, the Bom­bay high court held on Thurs­day.

The HC ob­served al­though “so­ci­ety has taboos around sex­ual re­la­tion­ships,” if a woman does not say no to such a re­la­tion­ship, it should be con­sid­ered “con­sen­sual.”

The ob­ser­va­tions came as the court was hear­ing a plea filed by a 25-year-old man, who was seek­ing bail. The man said he was in a year-long re­la­tion­ship with a 24-year-old woman from Gore­gaon. The two were phys­i­cally in­ti­mate, and the man had promised to marry the woman.

At the end of the year, how­ever, he could not keep his prom­ise of mar­riage and the cou­ple broke up. Soon af­ter, the woman ac­cused him of rap­ing her. She got the po­lice to reg­is­ter an FIR on charges such as rape, cheat­ing and as­sault.

She al­leged while they were in a re­la­tion­ship, the man would take her to ho­tels across the city and force her to have sex­ual in­ter­course with him, all the while as­sur­ing her of mar­riage.

She al­leged that she got preg­nant and the man had forced her to get an abor­tion. She said she used to help him fi­nan­cially, but he of­ten as­saulted her. Fear­ing ar­rest, the man ap­proached the HC.

The woman’s coun­sel, mean­while, op­posed the plea say­ing the woman had been “wronged” and that a “phys­i­cal re­la­tion­ship on false prom­ise of mar­riage must be con­sid­ered rape”.

Jus­tice Mridula Bhatkar, how­ever, junked the woman’s plea. “This can­not be con­sid­ered rape. You are a ma­jor, ed­u­cated and you have the choice of say­ing no. But, if you did not say no at the time, then it will be con­sid­ered as mu­tual con­sent. When the woman is ed­u­cated and ma­ture, she can say no. When she yes, it be­comes mu­tual,” jus­tice Bhatkar said and granted bail to the man. Jus­tice Bhatkar, how­ever, warned him against “con­tact­ing or ha­rass­ing the woman or her fam­ily mem­bers in any man­ner”.

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