Indian high court judge blames rise in cohabiting couples for sexual assaults

Indian high court judge blames rise in cohabiting couples for sexual assaults
Court made remarks while rejecting bail plea of man accused of raping woman

An Indian high court hearing a matter related to sexual assault has remarked that “live-in relationships” were leading to a rise in such incidents and was responsible for promoting “lascivious behaviour”.

The Indore bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court during an anticipatory bail petition of a 25-year-old man accused of raping a woman for months and forcing her to terminate her pregnancy.

In an order dated 12 April, Justice Subodh Abhyankar observed: “Taking note of the spurt of such offences in recent times arising out of live-in relationships, this court is forced to observe that the bane of live-in-relationships is a by-product of constitutional guarantee… engulfing the ethos of Indian society, and promoting lascivious behaviour, giving further rise to sexual offences.”

The complainant, who had known the man since 2016, accused him of spiking her drink and raping her, revealed court documents.

“When she came into her senses she saw that her clothes were removed by the applicant and when she asked him about the same, he told her that he has had sexual intercourse with her and had also made a video of the same,” the documents said. He allegedly also threatened to share the clip.

“When the applicant [accused] came to know about her pregnancy, he again threatened her and forced her to terminate the pregnancy,” revealed the court documents adding that after the first abortion in 2017, “he again started having physical relationship” with the complainant despite her protests.

After the termination of a second pregnancy, the accused stopped meeting her. The woman then got engaged to another man in January 2022, the complainant said in her submissions to the court.

But as she moved on from the relationship, the accused allegedly started blackmailing her, leading to the cancellation of her engagement. She told the court that the accused also threatened to kill himself.

The man, however, has denied the allegations.

After considering submissions from both parties, the court observed the two were “having live-in-relationship for quite some time and during this time”, the complainant got pregnant “for more than a couple of times and got it terminated” allegedly under pressure from the accused.

The court discussed the “bane of live-in relationships”, saying “those who wished to exploit the freedom were quick to embrace it, but were ignorant of its limitations ad does not confer any right on any of the partners of such relationship.”