New Delhi, February 11: A man from Punjab on Wednesday earned freedom from the Supreme Court on the condition that he would marry the woman, the complainant in a case against him , within six months. If he breaks his promise to marry the woman, who is now in Australia, he would be sent to jail, the top court warned.

“Remember, we will send you to jail if we find that your proposal to marry her is just a ploy to get rid of the criminal case against you,” an SC bench, headed by CJI SA Bobde, told the lawyer who represented the man while staying his arrest.

The bench, which also included justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, recorded the lawyer’s statement that the man’s parents had also signed an agreement promising to get their son married to the woman, and pack him off to Australia, the Hindustan Times reported.

In this case, the man faced charges of rape and cheating on a complaint by the woman. She alleged that he had a relationship with her on the pretext of marriage. The man and the woman met each other in Australia in 2016 where both were studying. While the woman belonged to a scheduled caste, the man was a Jat Sikh, an upper caste. According to the FIR lodged by the woman in Amritsar, the man convinced her to enter a relationship with him, promising that he would persuade his parents to agree to their marriage . In 2018, the man returned to Amritsar. The woman used to travel to India to meet him and their relationship continued until July 2019 when the man told her that his parents were against their marriage.

This prompted the woman to file a complaint with the NRI Wing of Punjab Police, which conducted a preliminary investigation and finally lodged an FIR invoking charges of rape and cheating under the IPC.

Claiming the relationship was consensual, the man sought protection from arrest but the Punjab and Haryana high court denied him relief, taking note of serious allegations by the complainant that he had threatened her he would publish photographs of her on social media if she did not withdraw the FIR.

On Wednesday, advocate Shakti Paul Sharma, appearing for the man, presented before the bench a compromise deed, which stated that the two would be married within six months and that the man would travel to Australia to live with the complainant.

The bench initially said it would grant bail only after he marries the woman. The lawyer, however, cited restrictions on flights from Australia to India due to Covid-19. The court then stayed the arrest of the man and also made the woman a party to the matter. The case will be heard next after four weeks.

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