Is it a crime to break a marriage engagement?

What is the legal status of a marriage engagement ceremony? Is breaking an engagement an actionable offence? In case there is no engagement and no ceremony, and the couple are merely going around as boyfriend and girlfriend, without any legal sanctity to the relationship, can the police and the courts intervene if one ditches the other? On what ground?

In what is clearly a personal matter between adult individuals (and their families), do the police have a role to play? Or, in a media age, has crying hoarse about broken engagements and dowry harassment become a handy tool?

MYSORE: Women police have arrested a youth and his mother for allegedly cheating a girl by breaking the marriage engagement. Mohankumar and his mother Devamma were arrested following a complaint by Susheela, who alleged that the duo were now refusing to abide by the November 26 engagement. The wedding was to take place after the Mudukuthore Jathre. But three days after the engagement, Mohankumar was said to have received an anonymous letter claiming from a person who claimed he was in love with the girl, prompting the change of heart. The complainant alleged that the groom-who-wasn’t had got married a couple of days ago.

BANGALORE: SV, the great granddaughter of theatre legend Gubbi Veeranna, filed a complaint against SR of Symbian software after the techie refused to marry her despite going around with her for nine months. SR met SV online last June, struck up a friendship, and evincedinterest in marrying her before having second thoughts. When he first refused to marry her, SV allegedly threatened suicide. When he refused again, she filed a complaint with Indiranagar police for dumpinghim, ostensibly with the objective of preventing other girls from falling into a similar trap.

BANGALORE: A woman has filed a case of dowry harassment under against her husband after 14 years of married life. When music maestro Vijay (name changed) refused to show the door to his aged parents as demanded by his wife (and the mother of their two children), Vidya (name changed), she approached Marathhalli police and filed a complaint of harassment under Section 498 A. The police picked up Vijay on the basis of Vidya’s oral version. In court, the matter has dragged on with the prosecution unable to provide any evidence to back the wife’s claims.

Top link via Nikhil Moro, bottom link via Sudheendra Muralidhara

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7 Responses to “Is it a crime to break a marriage engagement?”

  1. Sir Vibhudi Aatmapudi Says:

    What sad times we live in

    : -)

  2. Aashadabhoothi Says:

    Prevention of Dowry act has been misused for ulterior motives. An innocent childhood friend of mine was even arrested and thrown into jail for a couple of days after his mentally unsound and hysterical wife slapped a dowry harassment case against him. He underwent lot of effort, pain and turmoil even to get out on bail and finally got relief when his wife started taking her psychaitric medicine again. She withdrew the case and apologized. The police always suspect the men in Dowry cases. The presumption of innocene till proved guilty does not seem to apply to dowry cases. This is a draconian law and in a cosmopolitan soceity where women are financially independent and quite demanding of their rights, these kind of acts need to be revised so that innocents don’t suffer.

  3. Louis Brandon Says:

    I do agree with Aashadabhoothi, I am also in such condition that I decided to keep away from dowry. I did managed everything at my end. It was decided that I will marry to that girl after 2 years and we will be having engagement at the same time. That is because I need some time to manage money for marriage. Bride’s parents forced us to get engaged and will think about marriage after 2 years. Now, after engagement, bride’s father is again forcing to get married within 3 months. He is providing money to me but I refused to take it. After that, he started blackmailing me that he will file a complaint against me and will arrest me. Dont know what to do. If anybody can suggest me anything then please reply me asap. Please let me know if there is any Hindu marriage act to break the marriage after engagement itself.

  4. swapnil Says:

    My questions are really complicated.
    A girl is in relationship with boy1. Some guests was thr at her home to see her… then after 2 months nothing was happened.. suddenly the guests replied we are ready for wedding.. the boy2 who do not know about girl and boy1 is also ready for marriage. But she didn’t tell about her previous relationship.. She got emotional blackmail by her mother and now she wants boy1 also in her life. here i forget to mentioned that boy1 is in love with girl. she was not wanted to get engaged but her mother told her”If you will create any drama I will commit suicide.” and after getting engaged girl said to boy1 please stop this marriage anyhow but without knowing to anybody. where boy 2 is rich but gay (as per information) and girl knows that. And she didn’t told that to her mother. Boy2 wants marry that girl cause of property which he is going to own after marriage.

    1) Girl and boy1 are in love
    2) mother is emotional blackmailer
    3) Boy2 is selfish
    4) Girl is not in mode to take any right decision .

    Now my questions are
    1) What should boy1 do?
    2) Is that girl doing anything wrong?
    3) How many houses will spoil ?
    4) What will happen if marriage will break?
    5) Is girls mother is a criminal in this case?


    forget to mentioned that still marriage is not happened.. it is on 16th Dec 2011

  5. Sandeep Says:

    My condition is slightly different i got engaged with a girl in sept & announce our marriage date in this dec itself. But before one month of marriage my would be in laws informed us that the girl had infected with T.B. & according to their doctor marriage cant be done before at least one year. but when we took their report copies & xray also with us to our doc the doctor clearly mention that the disease affected to the girls more than 6 months & just because of tablets with excess power she is very much sick now & dont marry her before less than 2years. After hearing that we take our concerns & inform them that we cant do the marriage & breaking up this marriage. my question is is there any chances of any kind of leagle case or police complaint aggainst me or my mummy since we had her medical report & original xrays with us. Please suggest.

  6. harkol Says:


    In India any kind of legal case is possible and may drag on for years. The question is if you can be punished for what you do.

    From what I know, courts have found that prolonged illness is grounds for even divorces, so breaking an engagement for cause won’t be considered illegal.

    But, breaking an engagement on frivolous grounds may attract punitive damages being awarded. After all an engagement entails expenses on both sides (emotional and financial) and breakage of that has implications in rural societies.

    In most cases, it is a question of integrity of the people involved. Unless a situation is irretrievably bad, a commitment made shouldn’t be broken. It has huge psychological impact on everyone concerned.

    In fact, i am of the opinion that it is cruel & inhuman for someone to divorce on health ground (unless it is something that the person invited by way of smoking/drinking/extra-marital sex). Temporary misfortune can fall on anyone, that shouldn’t deter one from facing commitment.

  7. rahul Says:

    i got engage things were on off from the beginning itself their was some problem in trust,understanding, still we continued on the ground as no one is perfect .after 5 months of engagement

    suddenly one fine day{1 month } things goes very serious she acted a lot on unknown reason ,and did not pick us my call and not respond to my message ,so on that particular day i sent her some sexual message and abuse her for what she has done has no ground to act for that.
    now things has gone from my hand she claimed that she cant marry me and she want to file a complaint against me .
    the fact is that she was recording my call from 2 months keeping track of my sms hence i have no record of the same .
    now she wants to file a complaint o=based on that single that message

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