Underlining that “a perfectly legally valid marriage” comes into being upon the completion of ‘saat phere’, court has acquitted a man of the charge of rape on the ground that the prosecutrix was his legally-wedded wife.
Section 7 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1956, which describes the ceremonies for a Hindu wedding, says the marriage becomes complete and binding after the bride and groom jointly take the seventh step before the sacred fire.
Additional Sessions Judge Jagmohan Singh was hearing a case against the accused charged under sections 376 (rape) 493 (cohabitation caused by a man deceitfully inducing a belief of lawful marriage), 420 (cheating) and 380 (theft) of the Indian Penal Code.
“The offence of rape is not made out in the present case as the accused and the prosecutrix were lawfully married,” the court said in a recent judgment.
It noted the prosecutrix’s statement that her marriage was solemnised with the accused on July 21, 2014, at a temple after taking seven rounds (‘saat phere’) around the ceremonial fire in the presence of a priest.
“As both the prosecutrix and the accused belonged to the Hindu religion and as they had performed the Saptpadi ceremony at the time of their marriage, a legally valid marriage came into being between them as soon as the seventh round/step around the holy fire was completed,” the court said.
Regarding the prosecutrix’s grievance that a marriage certificate was not provided as the accused failed to provide his identity proof, the court said she was carrying a “mistaken impression” that the marriage was invalid unless a certificate was issued by the temple authorities.
It said, “In the present case, as the Saptpadi ceremony was complete, non-issuance of so-called marriage registration certificate by the temple authorities was of no legal consequence.”
“(So) charge under Section 493 of the also does not sustain against the accused,” the court added.
It also acquitted the accused from the charges of cheating and theft, noting the vague nature of the prosecutrix’s statements and the absence of corroborating evidence.
“The prosecution has failed to prove any of the charges against the accused beyond a reasonable doubt. Accordingly, the accused is hereby acquitted of all the charged offences,” the court said.
The South Rohini police station registered an FIR against the accused in 2015. Charges were framed against him in July 2016.