A Special Leave Petition was filed before Supreme Court of India, the petitioner was a Post-Doctoral fellow at Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad.

Petitioner invited marriage proposals for himself through advertisement in Deccan Chronicle in pursuance of which he was contacted for a marriage proposal, the marriage proposal was finalised. The petitioner himself gave out that he belonged to Gujala Balija Community which was a forward community and, therefore, he wanted a wife from a forward community.

After three years of marriage, the petitioner, allegedly, came to know that his wife’s family belonged to Kondakapu Community, which was a Scheduled Tribe, and it was then that he realised that by misrepresenting themselves as members of Thurupukapu Community, they had lured the petitioner into wedlock, for which the petitioner would not have agreed at all, had he known that they did not belong to Thurupukapu Community but belonged to Kondakapu Community.

It was in these circumstances that he filed a complaint in the Court under Section 415, 419, 420 read with Section 34 IPC which was referred to investigation. Since the investigation was considerably delayed, the petitioner filed Writ Petition in the High Court for a Writ of Mandamus directing the Station House Officer to expedite the investigation.

While the Writ Petition was pending, an affidavit was filed by the Station House Officer that after completing the investigation, he had submitted the chargesheet in the Court on 28.5.1997 against the respondents. The respondents, however, approached the High Court through a petition under Section 482 Cr.P.C. seeking the quashing of the FIR which was allowed by the impugned judgment and it was in those circumstances that this petition was filed in Supreme Court.

What is cheating?

The CHEATING is defined in Section 415 of the Indian Penal Code which provides as under:-

“415. Cheating.-

Whoever, by deceiving any person, fraudulently or dishonestly induces the person so deceived to deliver any property to any person, or to consent that any person shall retain any property, or intentionally induces the person so deceived to do or omit to do anything which he would not do or omit if he were not so deceived, and which act or omission causes or is likely to cause damage or harm to that person in body, mind, reputation or property, is said to “cheat”.

Explanation. – A dishonest concealment of facts is a deception within the meaning of this section.”

The Court’s Analysis

The Court analysed the case as follows-

“While the first part of the defition relates to property, the second part need not necessarily relate to property. The second part is reproduced below:- “………intentionally induces the person so deceived to do or omit to do anything which he would not do or omit if he were not so deceived, and which act or omission causes or is likely to cause damage or harm to that person in body, mind, reputation or property, is said to “cheat”.”

This part speaks of intentional deception which must be intended not only to induce the person deceived to do or omit to do something but also to cause damage or harm to that person in body, mind, reputation or property. The intentional deception presupposes the existence of a dominant motive of the person making the inducement.

Such inducement should have led the person deceived or induced to do or omit to do anything which he would not have done or omitted to do if he were not deceived. The further requirement is that such act or omission should have caused damage or harm to body, mind, reputation or property.

Here it is the doing of an act or omission to do an act by the complainant, as a result of intentional inducement by the accused which is material. Such inducement should result in the doing of an act or omission to do an act as a result of which the person concerned should have suffered or was likely to suffer damage or harm in body, mind, reputation or property.

In an old decision of the Allahabad High Court in Empress v. Sheoram and another, (1882) 2 AWN 237, it was held by Mahmood, J.:-

“That to palm off a young woman as belonging to a caste different to the one to which she really belongs, with the object of obtaining money, amounts to the offence of cheating by personation as defined in s.416 of the Indian Penal Code, which must be read in the light of the preceding, s.415.”

In an another old decision in Queen-Empress v. Ramka Kom Sadhu, ILR (1887) 2 Bombay 59, it was held that a prostitute may be charged for cheating under Section 417 if the intercourse was induced by any misrepresentation on her part that she did not suffer from syphilis.

In Queen vs. Dabee Singh and others, (1867) Weekly Reporter (Crl.) 55, the Calcutta High Court convicted a person under Section 417 who had brought two girls and palmed them off as women of a much higher caste than they really were and married to two Rajputs after receiving usual bonus.

It was further held that the two Rajputs who married the two girls on the faith that they were marrying women of their own caste and status, were fraudulently and dishonestly induced by deception to do a thing (that is to say, to marry women of a caste wholly prohibited to them) which but for the deception practised upon them by the accused, they would have omitted to do.

In another case which was almost similar to the one mentioned above, namely, Queen vs. Puddomonie Boistobee, (1866) 5 Weekly Reporter (Crl.) 98, a person was induced to part with his money and to contract marriage under the false impression that the girl he was marrying was a Brahminee. The person who induced the complainant into marrying that girl was held liable for punishment under Section 417 IPC.

Having regard to the above discussion, the High Court, as we have already observed earlier, was not correct in its interpretation of the provisions contained under Section 415 IPC but the important question for our consideration is that, should we, having regard to the facts of this case, interfere under Article 136 of the Constitution.

There has been an outburst of matrimonial disputes in recent times. The marriage is a sacred ceremony, the main purpose of which is to enable the young couple to settle down in life and live peacefully. But little matrimonial skirmishes suddenly erupt which often assume serious proportions resulting in commission of heinous crimes in which elders of the family are also involved with the result that those who could have counselled and brought about rapprochement are rendered helpless on their being arrayed as accused in the criminal case.

There are many other reasons which need not be mentioned here for not encouraging matrimonial litigation so that the parties may ponder over their defaults and terminate their disputes amicably by mutual agreement instead of fighting it out in a court of law where it takes years and years to conclude and in that process the parties lose their “young” days in chasing their “cases” in different courts.

The petitioner himself is a Scientist at the Centre for DNA Finger Printing & Diagnostics, Hyderabad which is a prestigious Institution of the country. In this capacity, he can be reasonably presumed to be aware of the bio-diversity at the Cellular and Molecular level amongst human beings without the “caste” having any role in the field of Human Biotechnology. It was for these reasons that the Petition, being without merit, was dismissed.”


G.V. Rao vs L.H.V. Prasad, 2000