Bhupinder Singh v. U.T. of Chandigarh [2008 SC]

Facts of the case

Complainant Manjit Kaur filed a complaint stating that she was employed as Clerk in Bank Employees Thrift Credit Society. She was daily commuting from Naraingarh. Accused Bhupinder Singh was employed as Data Entry Operator in State Bank of Patiala at Chandigarh. He used to come to her office and developed intimacy and then asked her to marry after disclosing himself as an unmarried person. Accused Bhupinder Singh insisted upon her to get married at the earliest in a Gurudwara through a simple ceremony and said that permission from the parents can be taken later on and that thereafter marriage would be solemnized with great pomp and show. Then she agreed to the proposal of the accused.

Then on 4.12.1990, Manjit Kaur and Bhupinder Singh got solemnized their marriage in Gurudwara after exchanging garland before the holy Granth Sahib. Then she stayed with the accused in Sector 22-C, Chandigarh. Accused had taken a loan of Rs. 5000 from a society at Panchkula in May 1991, where he had nominated her as his wife. She became pregnant, but accused got her aborted from Kaushal Nursing Home against her wishes.  She again became pregnant in July 1993 and their relations remained cordial till March, 1994.

On 6.3.1994 when she had gone to Rose Garden, she met Devinder Bansal and Vinod Sharma, who were friends of her husband Bhupinder Singh. Those persons told her that accused Bhupinder Singh was already married with one Gurinder Kaur and was having children from the said wedlock. She was shocked to learn this and after reaching the residence, she asked about Bhupinder Singh, who on the same day had left for Patiala on the pretext of attending some training course and did not return till 13.3.1994.

On 16.4.1994, she was admitted in General Hospital and gave birth to a female child. She informed Bhupinder Singh about this as he was father of the child. But Bhupinder Singh did not turn up.

In his statement under Section 313 of the “Code” the appellant took the stand that he started knowing the appellant after his marriage with Gurinder Kaur. The complainant was known to his wife before her marriage with him and she had come along with her mother to their place in 1988 in Sector 23, Chandigarh where her mother requested him to get her a job as she had finished the studies and wanted to get a job. The complainant stayed in their house for six months. Thereafter, he arranged a job for her. However, she had shifted and being of loose morals, entertained many people. When he learnt that she was of loose morals and was going out with different persons at odd hours, he objected and told the complainant to mend her ways. But she started fighting with him and demanded money which he does not pay and, after delivery of the child, she filed a false complaint.

Gurinder Kaur stated that he knew the complainant prior to her marriage.

Documents were also produced to show that in official documents, accused-appellant had  shown the complainant as his wife and nominee.

The High Court found that the case at hand was covered by Clause “Fourthly” of Section 375 IPC and, therefore, was guilty of the offence and was liable for punishment under Section 376 IPC. But, taking into account the fact that the complainant had knowledge about his marriage and had yet surrendered to him for sexual intercourse, held this to be a fit case for reduction of sentence and award of adequate compensation. Accordingly, custodial sentence of three years’ rigorous imprisonment was imposed in place of seven years rigorous imprisonment as was done by the trial court. The compensation was fixed at Rs.1,00,000 which was directed to be paid within three months.

Learned counsel for the accused-appellant submitted that when the complainant knew that he was a married man and yet consented for sexual intercourse with him, clause “fourthly” of Section 375 IPC would have no application.

Clause “fourthly” of Section 375 IPC reads as follows:

A man is said to commit “rape”, who has sexual intercourse with a woman…

…with her consent, when the man knows that he is not her husband, and that her consent is given because she believes that he is another man to whom she is or believes herself to be lawfully married.

Though it is urged with some amount of vehemence that when the complainant knew that he was a married man, clause “fourthly” of Section 375 IPC has no application, the stand is clearly without substance. Even though, the complainant claimed to have married the accused, which fact is established from several documents, that does not improve the situation so far as the accused-appellant is concerned. Since, he was already married, the subsequent marriage, if any, has no sanctity in law and is void ab-initio. In any event, the accused-appellant could not have lawfully married the complainant. A bare reading of clause “fourthly” of Section 375 IPC makes this position clear.

It is pointed out by learned counsel for the appellant that the date of knowledge claimed by the complainant is 6.3.1994, but the first information report was lodged on 19.9.1994. The complainant has explained that she delivered a child immediately after learning about the incident on 16.4.1994 and, therefore, was not in a position to lodge the complaint earlier. According to her she was totally traumatized on learning about the marriage of the accused-appellant.

Though the explanation is really not satisfactory, but in view of the position in law that the accused was really guilty of the offence punishable under Section 376 IPC, the delayed approach of the complainant cannot, in any event, wash away the offence.

The appeal filed by the accused is dismissed. The High Court has reduced the sentence taking note of the peculiar facts of the case, more particularly, the knowledge of the complainant about the accused being a married man. The High Court has given sufficient and adequate reasons for reducing the sentence and awarding compensation of Rs.1,00,000. The reasons indicated by the High Court do not suffer from any infirmity and, therefore, the appeal filed by the complainant is without merit and is dismissed.