The Bombay High Court has said that a girl's friendliness with a boy does not amount to her consent for a physical relationship.
"Merely sharing a friendly relationship with a girl does not permit a boy to take her for granted and construe it as her consent to establish a physical relationship," said the Court in an order issued on Friday on a pre-arrest bail.
A single-judge bench of Justice Bharati H Dangre rejected the bail of a man accused of having sex with a woman on the pretext of marriage. He is facing rape and cheating charges under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), according to India Today.
The woman was friendly with the accused and the two went to a friend's place in 2019 where the accused forced himself on her, according to the complaint.
The Indian Express reported that though the complainant opposed the act, the accused said he liked her and said he'd marry her. They went on to have physical relations on several occasions. The complainant later learnt she was pregnant, and, when she confronted the accused, not only he refused to marry her and to take responsibility for the pregnancy, he also said she had a "bad character".
The woman described several instances in which they had sex after the accused promised to marry her, as per India Today.
After being booked by the police, the accused sought protection from arrest, arguing that the woman had consented to the physical relationship.
Rejecting his plea, the Court said he required to be further probed by the police to ascertain if the woman had been forced to give her consent to the physical relationship.
The court noted that though the woman had developed feelings for the accused, sexual relationship was established on the basis that he would marry her, according to India Today. Not only he refused to marry her, but he also accused her of infidelity and allegedly forced himself on her again.
The Court noted, "Every woman expects 'respect' in a relationship, be it in the nature of friendship based on mutual affection. Here is the man who is accused of maintaining a sexual relationship on the pretext of marriage, but when the complainant conceived, he walked out, alleging that the pregnancy carried by her was on account of her relationship with other people."
The Court further said that friendship is gender-neutral in today's society and it does not give a person a licence to force himself on a woman.
"In today’s society, when a man and a woman are working together, it is quite possible that proximity may develop between them, either being mentally compatible or confiding in each other as friends, ignoring gender, since friendship is not gender-based. However, friendship with a person of the fairer sex does not confer a licence upon a man to force himself upon her when she specifically refuses copulation," said the Court, as per India Today.
(With PTI inputs)