Consent is not irrevocable, says Supreme Court as it declines to quash rape case against man

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The Supreme Court has said a relationship may be consensual at the beginning but it may not remain so for all time to come as it declined to quash a rape case lodged against a man.

"Whenever one of the partners show their unwillingness to continue with such relationship, the character of such relationship as it was when started will not continue to prevail," a bench of Justices Aniruddha Bose and Sanjay Kumar said.

The court declined to interfere with the Karnataka High Court's order of March 30, 2023 which dismissed a plea by Rajkumar to quash the FIR lodged against him on July 23, 2022.

The woman has alleged commission of offences against her under the provisions of Sections 342, 354, 366, 376(2)(n), 312, 201, 420, 506 and 509 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and Sections 66(E), 67 and 67(A) of the Information Technology Act, 2000.

The court noted various alleged offending acts to have been committed by the petitioner who claimed these were all a counterblast to his complaint of blackmailing/extortion against the woman.

"In the factual back drop, it cannot be held that the FIR does not disclose any offence. The allegations cannot be held to be inherently improbable, which is one of the grounds for quashing an FIR, as held in the judgment of this Court in the case of State of Haryana & Ors Vs Bhajan Lal & Ors (1992)," the bench said.

The petitioner's counsel relied on a recent judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of 'Shambhu Kharwar Vs State of Uttar Pradesh & Anr' (2022) to contend that consensual relationship cannot give rise to an offence of rape. 

"We accept this view taken by a coordinate Bench of this Court but so far as the subject proceeding is concerned, the allegations do not demonstrate continued consent on the part of the complainant. A relationship may be consensual at the beginning but the same state may not remain so for all time to come," the bench said.

"In the instant case, we do not think the relationship had remained consensual to justify quashing of the criminal complaint at the threshold. We also do not think that the complaint, in pursuance of which the FIR has been registered, lacks the ingredients of the offences alleged," the bench added.

The court dismissed the petitioner's plea and directed to keep the identity of masked in all records.