Even consensual sex under fear is rape: SC

Moreover, the apex court said that seldom does a victim or the family falsely implicate a person as the stigma would only ruin their reputation and rejected the plea that the complaint was lodged after four months.

"It can be held that a woman has given consent only if she has freely agreed to submit herself, while in free and unconstrained possession of her physical and moral power to act in a manner she wanted. Consent implies the exercise of a free and untrammeled right to forbid or withhold what is being consented to, it always is a voluntary and conscious acceptance of what is proposed to be done by another and concurred to by the former.

"An act of helplessness in the face of inevitable compulsions is not consent in law. More so, it is not necessary that there should be actual use of force. A threat of use of force is sufficient," a bench of Justices P Sathasivam and B S Chauhan said in a judgement.

The apex court delivered the verdict while dismissing the appeal filed by the convict Satpal Singh claiming that the victim had consented to the act and falsely implicated him. A sessions court had sentenced Singh to 7 years imprisonment, but the Punjab and Haryana High Court had reduced the sentence to five years.
The apex court bench said that the delay in lodging the FIR was on account of various reasons as the local panchayat and other elders had tried their best to dissuade the family from lodging a complaint as it would only affect her marriage prospects.

"In a rape case, the prosecutrix remains worried about her future. She remains in a traumatic state of mind. The family of the victim generally shows reluctance to go to the police station because of society's attitude towards such a woman. It casts doubts and shame upon her rather than comfort and sympathise with her.
"Family remains concerned about its honour and reputation of the prosecutrix. After only having a cool thought it is possible for the family to lodge a complaint in sexual offences," the court observed.

The apex court said that as honour of the family is involved, its members have to decide whether to take the matter to the court or not.

"In such a fact-situation, near relations of the prosecutrix may take time as to what course of action should be adopted. Thus, delay is bound to occur. This Court has always taken judicial notice of the fact that ordinarily the family of the victim would not intend to get a stigma attached to the victim," the bench said.

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