From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : NA
Mains level : False Promise of Marriage
- The proposed Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS), 2023, seeks to address a specific issue concerning sexual relationships based on false promises of marriage.
- Section 69 of this Bill introduces significant changes in this regard.
Section 69 of BNS – Sexual Intercourse on False Promise of Marriage
- Creation of Two Offenses: Section 69 within Chapter 5 of the BNS, titled “Offences against Women and Children,” defines ‘sexual intercourse by employing deceitful means etc.’ and includes two violations: one by deceitful means and one by a ‘false promise to marry.’
- Deceitful Means: The first violation involves employing deceitful means, such as a false promise of employment, promotion, or marriage, with the intent to induce sexual relations. If a person uses such means, they could face penalties of up to ten years of imprisonment.
- False Promise to Marry: The second violation pertains to making a false promise to marry a woman with the intention of breaking that promise, solely to obtain her consent and exploit her sexually. This offense is also subject to a penalty of up to ten years of imprisonment.
Why Section 69 Is Introduced?
- Historical Context: In the absence of a specific provision, cases of sexual intercourse based on false promises of marriage were previously addressed using other sections of criminal law, causing ambiguity.
- Prevalence of Cases: Cases of sex under the “false promise of marriage” had been reported frequently, with victims often unable to seek legal remedy effectively.
- Legal Ambiguity: The existing legal framework did not clearly distinguish between a ‘false promise’ and a ‘breach’ of promise to marry, creating complications in determining consent and intention.
Courts’ Handling of ‘False Promise of Marriage’ Cases
- Judicial Interpretation: Courts had traditionally relied on existing laws like Sections 375 and 90 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) to address such cases.
- Consent Examination: Section 375 defines consent as an unequivocal voluntary agreement, and Section 90 considers consent given under “misconception of fact.” Courts examined cases based on these provisions.
- Distinguishing Factors: Courts differentiated between a ‘false promise’ made with the intent to deceive and a ‘breach’ of promise made in good faith but not fulfilled.
- Crucial Judgments: The Supreme Court’s judgment in ‘Pramod Suryabhan Pawar vs. State of Maharashtra’ (2019) highlighted the importance of the promise-maker’s intent to deceive. Another significant case, ‘Dileep Singh vs. State of Bihar,’ underscored the need for establishing a lack of intention to marry for the offense to be considered rape.
Implications and Critiques of Section 69
- Endogamy Promotion: Critics argue that Section 69 may promote endogamy by shifting the focus from real harm and abuse to whether the man intended to marry, disregarding the complex social context in which such relationships occur.
- Ambiguity and Discretion: The Bill’s vagueness and discretionary nature could perpetuate uncertainty and reliance on gender norms, potentially re-victimizing women.
- Cycle of Consequences: While the Bill specifies the consequences of the crime, it may overlook the harm suffered by women, contributing to a cycle where justice remains elusive.
- Section 69 of the proposed BNS, 2023, addresses a crucial issue related to sexual relationships based on false promises of marriage.
- However, the Bill’s implementation and interpretation will require careful scrutiny to ensure justice is served without perpetuating harmful gender norms or social biases, as indicated by crucial judgments in relevant cases.