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The new definition of rape
The crimes against women and the social ostracism that they face will no longer go unnoticed as the Delhi Court passed a path-breaking verdict in a case that is set to change the very definition of rape in our country.
RAPE, IN India, is defined as intentional and unlawful sexual intercourse with a woman without her consent. The essential elements of this definition under Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code are ‘sexual intercourse with a woman’ and the absence of consent. The Section 375 made it clear that intercourse would account to rape only during the absence of the woman’s consent. But a Delhi court verdict, which came in yesterday seems to modify the definition. This will come as a sigh of relief to the women across the country.

Having a sexual relationship with a woman with a false promise of marriage can also be termed as rape. The case was being heard in a Delhi Court and it involved a man having sexual intercourse with his neighbour. The man was found guilty of rape and sentenced to seven years of rigorous imprisonment.

In the present case, Chhotey Lal, the convict and father of six children, had eloped with his neighbour in New Delhi in September 2004, and took her to far away places like Jaipur and Chandigarh. According to the girl, the duo established sexual relations after Lal assured her that he would marry her ‘very soon’. Meanwhile, the girl’s father lodged a ‘missing’ report with the police. The police detained Lal and the girl in March 2005 at Sarai Kale Khan Bus Terminal when they were returning to Delhi. Chhotey Lal was prosecuted for abducting the girl and having sexual relationships with her on false pretext.

“The so-called consent under a false promise to marriage is no consent,” additional sessions judge Mahavir Singhal said.

Highlighting the difference between ‘will’ and ‘consent’, the court said that a nod for sexual relations obtained by a man on the false pretext would not amount to a ‘legal or valid’ consent to save him from punishment for rape.

The Court observed that, even if the woman is assumed to be a willing partner in having a physical relationship, that the accused had no intention to marry her would make it a case where consent was given under misconception of facts, nullifying the efficacy of the nod.

The above hearing of the Court would open the doors for thousands of women across the length and breadth of the country to come ahead and lodge their complaints. There are many women who are misused or misguided by their lovers, who under the pretext of marrying them just maintain a sexual relationship with them. Thus, this verdict would revolutionalise the way in which rape was seen. Even if there were mutual consent, if the consent is based on a false pretext made by the man then the consent would stand as null and void and the intercourse be termed as rape.

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