Is breaking up with your partner now a crime in India? Understanding the new law section 69

Is breaking up with your partner now a crime in India? Understanding the new law section 69

Is breaking up with your partner now a crime in India? Understanding the new law section 69

Share This News

Bhartiya Nyaya Sanhita introduces severe penalties for sexual relationships based on deceit, raising concerns among experts.

Relationships, consent, and marriage have always been complex for law enforcement. However, these are back in focus with the introduction of the new Bhartiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS). The new law replaced the 164-year-old Indian Penal Code (IPC) on July 1. Among its provisions, Section 69 has particularly alarmed experts. This section stipulates that if a promise to marry is made without any intent to fulfill it, leading to a sexual relationship, the deceiver could face up to 10 years of imprisonment.

“Whoever, by deceitful means or by making a promise to marry a woman without any intention of fulfilling the same, has sexual intercourse with her, such sexual intercourse not amounting to the offence of rape, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years and shall also be liable to fine,” reads Section 69 of the BNS.

Section 69 is unprecedented as the IPC did not have a specific provision addressing sexual intercourse by deceit. Earlier, such cases were tried under Section 90 of the IPC. Previously the law mentioned that a woman could not have consented to sexual intercourse if there was a “misconception of fact.” There have been many instances where women alleged rape if a relationship fell through. With Section 69, women can now claim to have consented to sexual intercourse upon false promises.

Critics argue that Section 69, in a way, criminalizes consensual relationships in some cases. Men in relationships could be vulnerable to harassment if the relationship does not end in marriage. It could also be used in cases where there is a complaint that marriages, especially interfaith marriages, have taken place where the man concealed his identity.

The term “deceitful” in Section 69 has been explained as “inducement for, or false promise of employment or promotion, or marrying by suppressing identity.” The “promise to marry” aspect of Section 69 opens a Pandora’s box for people in relationships and law enforcement officials.

Lawyers argue that while an intent to deceive could be established if the relationship ended for other reasons. Male partners could still face severe consequences. Police officials worry that Section 69 might make arresting men easier without credible evidence.

Critics have labelled Section 69 of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita as shamefully misogynistic, arguing that it could criminalize consensual relationships. They point out that a woman can lodge a case against her partner if their relationship does not end in marriage, raising the big question of how courts will establish “intent to marry” and distinguish it from a breach of promise.

Lawyers are concerned about navigating the grey areas that come with Section 69. For adults in consenting relationships, this provision raises more questions than it answers. It could potentially create unnecessary panic among couples who may worry about the consequences of parting ways.