Breach of Promise to Marriage, Is It Called Rape?


By Devi Das-

What is Marriage? marriage is the relationship between two individuals of the opposite gender, which is the long term relation. The individuals are known as ‘husband’ and ‘wife’. Marriage is a lifelong commitment. The two individuals get committed to each other for the whole life. It is a union of physical as well as the emotional union. Marriage joints the two individuals as they can pursue Dharma(duty), Artha(possession), and Kama(physical desires). In Hinduism, the marriage is followed & occurred by traditions and rituals.

Marriage is that to say in another way, it is a contract between the two individuals. Breach of promise to marry is a kind of breach of contract.

A breach of contract may occur when a party to a valid contract has failed to fulfill their side of the agreement.” Although marriage is also a kind of contract or agreement to be done in both parties. 

So what is a breach of promise to marry? Breach of promise to marry or simply u can say it a breach of promise. The failure to fulfill the promise is treated as a breach of promise. It can be said as a breach of contract. When a person promises to marry another, and he backs out of their agreement, it is termed as a breach of promise or breach of contract.

Not every failed promise amount to rape: The Supreme court held that every breach of promise to marry cannot be a false promise. Under the law, a man can be convicted of rape if it is established that he had sexual intercourse with the woman on the pretext of a false promise of marriage.

According to the court, a bench headed by DY Chandrachud made a distinction between the ‘breach of promise’ and ‘false promise’. We need to appreciate the difference between false promises and breach of promise.

A promise if false, if the promiser had no intension of fulfilling the promise at the time when it was made. Thus, it was false from the beginning and the promisor made it with the object of getting the woman to consent. On the other hand, the breach of promise may be occurred due to the number of factors like – 

  • The boy may fallout out of love and he might get involved with another.
  • He might be compelled by his family to marry someone else.

And there could be many other reasons, a boy may not fulfill his promise of marriage. But does not mean that the promise was false from inception.

The court held that in every case where a man fails to marry a woman despite a promise, he can not be held guilty of rape. It is for the prosecution to prove that his promise to marry was a promise given with no intension to honor it. And that such promise, the only reason why a woman agreed to a sexual relationship.

So, regarding this concept, the bench held that where the promise to marry is false and the intension of the maker at the time of making the promise itself was not to abide by it. But to deceive the woman to convince her to engage in sexual relations, there is a ‘misconception of fact’ that vitiates the woman’s ‘consent’ under section 375(rape) of the IPC.

On the other hand, the breach of promise cannot be said as a false promise. To e4stablish a false promise, the maker of the promise should have had no intension of upholding his word at the time of giving it-according to the judgment.

For analyzing the concept, here is a case law as an example:

Nitin Kumar vs. The State of Karnataka on 31st January 2015 in Karnataka Highcourt.

Here in this case the first informant victim, a lady (not mentioned) has come in contact with the petitioner (Nitin Ku.) and he had assured her of marriage and he had sexual contact with her many times. Later he backed out of his promise to marry her and demanded a huge sum of money and gold. The petitioner had filed a criminal case against the said lady for the offense, which is punishable under section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act and has ultimately withdrawn the same.

As a result, the ORDER of the petition is dismissed. So, the learned counsel for the petitioner has argued that the case of the accused doesn’t come within “rape” and it would amount to a breach of promise to marry is punishable under section 417, IPC. But in section 376 of IPC.


So, from the above discussion, we have to conclude that, as the breach of promise to marry may be an offense to the 2nd person but it is not termed as rape. The failure of the promise of marriage may be the guilt, but the sexual relationship during that time is not said as rape. So, the breach of promise to marry cannot be treated as Rape.

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