Legal implication of breaking an engagement

Hi, I am a non-resident Indian. I got engaged in August 2016 and by the end of September I started realising that the person has some emotional disconnect. His behavior was not normal at times and it created a lot of stress and health problems for me. Finally, I decided to break the engagement which he wasn't ready to accept. Both the families met and nobody was willing to accept that he had some issue. For everyone he was the perfectly well-settled guy but nobody knew the turmoil I was facing. After 2 months of no contact and families agreeing to sign a legal document to avoid future complications, he refuses to state that he is ready to break the engagement. Please let me know what could be the implications for this?

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NO Court can force people to marry each other, so that happening is not possible. The following are the "worst case scenarios" presented to you, just so that you are mentally prepared for every possibility. 


If you have exchanged any gifts or money during and after the engagement then it is advised to return all those gifts to the other party. This is because the other party may institute a suit against your family for cheating or fraud. And similarly, the gifts which you have spent on the other party during or after the engagement can also be asked back.

If you want to break the engagement then you are free to break it, legally speaking. Like we said, courts and the law cannot force one adult to marry another.

However, there are possibilities of legal action which could be taken against you:

1. Breach of Promise

To prove breach of promise the other party must prove:

a. You had, in the past, promised to marry, and

b. they acted and made certain choices because of the promise to marry, and,

c. this promise and acts due to it, resulted to monetary loss.

If these conditions are proved by the other party then the breach of promise to marry is proved then you could be held liable to pay for damages.

Courts have held that if there is a promise to marry and it has been breached then the other person can institute a civil case and claim compensation,[1], But they can only institute civil suit for damages and this should not be considered as an offence.[2]

This can be used by YOU as well, against them, to claim for loss incurred by you.


2. Cheating

Under IPC section 415 – Cheating is defined as "when a person, fraudulently or dishonestly, induces another person to do something which he would not do otherwise, and such an act causes or is likely to cause damage or harm to that person in body, mind, reputation or property."

If Cheating is proved by the party then the accused can be sentenced for one year imprisonment or fine or both under section 417 of Indian Penal Code.[3]

However, the success rate of such cases is quite low, as one has to prove that what they did based on the promise to marry, caused damage to their mind and reputation. This burden of proof is high.



It is advisable to first try to settle this issue amicably between yourselves, without taking each other to court.



[1] Mukesh v State of Karnataka (2014) 

[2] Rudresh v State of Karnataka (2014)

[3] Christian Chidieere Chukwu v State of Karntaka (2016)

Answered on February 10, 2017.
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