“Boys will be Boys”

Dictionary meaning:

Term used casually to express the view that mischievous or childish behaviour is typical of boys or young men and should not cause surprise when it occurs.


Legal observation:

In Arvind v. Union of India, the High Court of Delhi refused to uphold the excuse of “boys will be boys” in a case pertaining to sexual harassment at the workplace. The court held that

This Court cannot countenance the submission that being a young man, the Petitioner’s indiscretions had to be condoned. Age might be a relevant factor in some circumstances; yet it may be irrelevant in others. … It is precisely this kind of indiscretion which amounts to harassment at the workplace that are outlawed by the Vishaka guidelines and the recently enacted Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013. The object of such policies and enactments is not merely to make a point that such acts constitute misconduct and then let off the delinquent with a light punishment. These policies require male employees and officials to behave in a manner that female co-employees do not feel threatened, or harassed. The nature of the penalty imposed is also a signal to the female employees in the establishment that the employer is intolerant of such misbehaviour. The larger purpose of the enactment and all such sexual harassment prohibition policies is also to stop unwanted attentions towards female employees which may from a male perspective seem to be merely low intensity misbehaviour (a “boys will be boys” attitude). The law attempts to strike at the root of the imperfect balance of power in the workplace. The larger social goal is to achieve an equal and safe workplace where the worth of the individual matters, not her or his gender or looks. It is, therefore, that a male employee enters the prohibited harassment zone; once he presses his attentions beyond the point of acceptance upon the female co-employee, even if in his own eyes, it may simply be romantic pursuit.”



Dutiful Wife

When one is referred to as ‘dutiful’, it means that they do everything that they are expected to do.


In Arvind v. Union of India, the High Court of Delhi

“She was attending to all household work at her matrimonial house with care. She stated that though she was never treated with dignity by the mother-in-law and though she was abused, she as a dutiful wife continued to do all the household work. The mother-in-law then started beating and abusing her.”


In Narendra v. K. Meena, the Supreme Court was of the opinion that:

“…In India, generally people do not subscribe to the western thought, where, upon getting married or attaining majority, the son gets separated from the family. In normal circumstances, a wife is expected to be with the family of the husband after the marriage. She becomes integral to and forms part of the family of the husband and normally without any justifiable strong reason, she would never insist that her husband should get separated from the family and live only with her.”

A division bench of High Court of Bombay, while hearing an appeal filed by an employee of the Shipping Corporation of India seeking divorce from his wife on the ground that she was not willing to shift with him to Port Blair where he was transferred, remarked that:

A wife should be like goddess Sita who left everything and followed her husband Lord Ram to a forest and stayed there for 14 years”.[1]


In Rajkumar v. State of Punjab, in the opening remarks of the written order, the judge writes that:

“A girl marries while having a dream of good husband to have his company throughout her life to pull on life like a chariot, when a bride leaves parental home for the matrimonial home leaving behind sweet memories there with a hope that she will see a new world full of love in her groom’s house. She leaves behind not only her memories but also her surname, gotra and maidenhood. She expects not only to be good wife but to be a good mother, daughter-in-law and even mother-in-law.”


In Tulsa W/o Pannalal Koli v. Pannalal Natha Koli and Anr, AIR 1963 MP 5, the Madhya Pradesh High Court held as:

As a devoted wife it was no doubt Tulsa’s duty to get up before her husband was to leave for his work, but if she did not, the husband was not entitled to beat her. Likewise, as the dutiful wife, she should have respected the wishes of her husband as to the particular clothes to be put on a particular occasion. But if she did not,again, the husband had no right to beat her. The husband cannot be heard to retort that the wife should also bear his irritating idiosyncracacies when he beats her. Everyone has certain whims in his ways of life, but no husband has the right, irrespective of the community to which he belongs, to do physical violence to his wife. And if he does, she has every right to resent. It is altogether a different matter whether or not a particular violence would entitle her to separate residence or constitute a sufficient ground for judicial separation under section 10 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.”


In the case of Delhi Development Authority v. Skipper Construction and Anr. (with) Delhi Development Authority v. Tejwant Singh and Anr., while determining the quantum of punishment in a case, the Supreme court observed that:

As an Indian wife, dutiful and obedient, she seems to have only followed the dictates and desires of her husband. In the process she has done no more than lending her name both as a Director” to the Skipper as well as to the various acts done by him in the name of the company. It will be unrealistic to ignore this fact against our social background.”



Free Sex

The phrase is not defined, but the literal meaning would imply sexual intercourse without any monetary transaction.


“11. When coming to the question of sentence, the learned Additional Public Prosecutor would bring to the notice of this court in a ratio decidenti in State of Chhattisgarh v. Lakhram[2] wherein in a case of similar nature in which the prosecutrix is below the age of 16 years, the evidence adduced in that case would reveal that the victim girl voluntarily eloped with the accused and was in his custody for nearly 1 = years and allowed the accused to have free sex with her, the Honourable Apex Court thought it fit that the sentence can be modified to that of the period already undergone in the interest of justice. Under such circumstances, I am of the view that the same yardstick can be applied to the present facts of the case while confirming the conviction of the learned trial Judge, the sentence alone can be modified to that of the period already undergone.”[3]

“Then, the first accused spoke to the deceased through his cellphone and told him that there was a girl available with them for free sex. The first accused further told him to come to the bus stand from where, he would take him to the place, where the girl was. Accordingly, the deceased came to the said spot. Then, the accused 1 and 2, took the motorcycle belonging to the third accused bearing registration No.TN 57 H 4590 and they were lying in wait for the deceased at the bus stand.”[4]

16. It appears to be a case where appellant could hardly manage any meaningful sex with the prosecutrix; probably due to her young age she was not comfortable with free sex with a male aged 19 years. It highlights the fact that the appellant did not treat the prosecutrix with bestiality or cruelty. He did a wrong act, but treated the prosecutrix with compassion and as a human being.

Had the appellant desired a free and full sex, nothing prevented him from overpowering the prosecutrix and subjecting her to a full blooded sexual assault and if this was so, the vagina of the prosecutrix would have admitted more than the tip of the little finger being inserted therein.”[5]

“But, in the name of freedom of speech, if they pass on messages corrupting the minds of the youngsters, the same would not be tolerated since ultimately it would lead to abrupt increase of sexual offences. There would be no second opinion at all that if such scabrous views are propagated, cultural degradation will be the resultant position ultimately leading to upsetting of social order. Thus, Freedom of expression would not give an unbridled licence to a citizen of India to speak about free sex/pre-marital sex.”[6]



Jealous Mistress

‘Jealous’ refers to feeling or showing envious resentment of someone or their achievements, possessions, or perceived advantages. ‘Mistress’ refers to a woman (other than the man’s wife) having a sexual relationship with a married man. Thus, ‘jealous mistress’ is one who feels or shows resentful suspicion that her partner is attracted to or involved with someone else.


In Ediga Annamma v. State of Andhra Pradesh[7], the following observation was made:

“With the reckless passion of a jealous mistress she planned to liquidate her competitor and crudely performed the double murder, most foul.”



Pre-marital sex/relationship

Premarital sex is sexual activity practiced by persons who are unmarried.


“It is the perpetual understanding of a right mind that both premarital and extramarital relationships are molecules of immorality…. Immorality in the present context seems to refer to nothing more or less than extra-marital or pre-marital relationships.”[8]




(of a person) having a lot of different sexual partners


In Dushyant Kumar v. State of Himachal Pradesh[9], the Supreme Court made the following observation:

“8. Once the prosecutrix knew that the petitioner is a married man, it was for her to restrain herself and not indulge in intimate activities. No doubt, it is the responsibility, moral and ethical both, on the part of man not to exploit any woman by compelling or inducing her for sexual relationship. But then it is ultimately the woman herself who is the protector of her own body and therefore, her prime responsibility to ensure that in the relationship, protects her own dignity and modesty. A woman is not expected to throw herself to a man and indulge him promiscuity thereby becoming a source of hilarity. It is for her to maintain her purity, chastity and virtues.”[10]


In Jayanti Rani Panda v. State of West Bengal[11], a Division Bench of Calcutta High Court held that:

“…If a full grown girl consents to the act of sexual intercourse on a promise marriage and continues to indulge in such activity until she becomes pregnant it is an act of promiscuity on her part and not an act induced by misconception of fact. Section 90 IPC cannot be called in aid in such a case to pardon the act of the girl and fasten criminal liability on the other, unless the Court’ can be assured that from the very inception the accused never really intended to marry her.”


In Rohit Tiwari v. State[12], the High Court of Delhi held that:

“No cogent evidence has emerged on record to show that the physical relations were established with the prosecutirx on the false promise of or assurance of marriage. Where was the compulsion for the prosecutrix to have physical relationship repeatedly without ensuring that the appellant and his family members were willing to perform marriage with her? She was mature enough to fully understand as to what was happening between the two. There is nothing in her evidence to demonstrate that she was incapable of understanding the nature and implications of the acts which she consented to. Her consent for physical relationship (if any) was an act of conscious reason. If a fully grown up lady consents to the act of sexual intercourse on a promise to marry and continues to indulge in such activity for long, it is an act of promiscuity on her part and not an act induced by misconception of fact.”[13]



Step-motherly treatment

‘Stepmother’ is the current wife of one of one’s biological father. ‘Step-motherly treatment’ means pertaining to or befitting a stepmother; hence, figuratively, harsh or neglectful: in allusion to the behaviour popularly attributed to stepmothers.


Countless cases across all levels of judiciary carry the reference to ‘step-motherly treatment’ to denote the discriminatory behaviour in the case before the court. A sample reflection is as follows:

“The doctrine of equality before law demands that all litigants, including the State as a litigant, are accorded the same treatment and the law is administered in an even-handed manner. There is no warrant for according a step-motherly treatment when the State is the applicant.”[14]

“… the respondent authorities are giving step-motherly treatment to the special teachers for disabled students, and consequently, adversely affecting the education of such children.”[15]



Submissive Wife

A married woman who is passive in her approach or whose opinions are easily overpowered or dependent on the opinion and point of view of her husband or family members.


In Trimbak Narayan Bhagwat v. Kumudini Trimbak Bhagwat[16], the court opined that:

“The appellate Court has believed the wife and, in my opinion, very rightly. Here is an obedient wife, a wife who put up with all possible hardships and privations for a long period of six years. It is unimaginable that such a obedient and submissive wife would trot out a false incident and try to foist it upon the husband. The evidence of the wife and Suresh clearly shows that the husband tried to strangulate the yound child, Ravindra, as it was sitting on the lap of his mother on that day. It is mainly because of this incident and the fear endangered in her mind on that account that the wife seems to have apprehended danger to her life and her children. It is difficult to say that the apprehension was without sufficient ground.”

In Tungabai v. Yeshwant Dinkar Jog[17], a judgement which is oft quoted, the following observation was made:

“The appellant was married to her husband some years ago at the age of twelve, and is described by the Subordinate Judge as young in years and not very intelligent. She is quite illiterate; unable to read or write, but can sign her name. She has two children living, and her stridhan property, which brings in some Rs. 400 to 500 a year, is all that the family can depend on. Her husband managed the property entirely; she is evidently a submissive wife, and if her husband told her to execute a document, she did so at his bidding and without informing herself of the contents.”



Western Society

Western culture, sometimes equated with Western civilisation, Western lifestyle or European civilisation, is a term used very broadly to refer to a heritage of social norms, ethical values, traditional customs, belief systems, political systems, and specific artifacts and technologies that have some origin or association with Europe.


In the case of Khushboo v. Kanniammal, the Supreme Court made the following comments:

Unlike Indian Society, in the west in particular, sexual relationships are generally viewed as the private preference of each individual as perceived by the petitioner. No one has the right to determine with whom, or how one conducts one’s sex life. What occurs between consenting adults, no matter what sex or how many, is usually condoned. Premarital sex is considered quite acceptable, normal, well within the bounds of morality, and indeed desirable. Dating begins at a very young age and every socially well-adjusted youngster is expected to have several girlfriends and boyfriends by a certain age. Use of condoms by school going children has become a common phenomenon there. Thus, those who grow up in the West are weaned on sex in both subtle and not so subtle ways. That is why, to many Westerners, sex can be worthwhile as long as it embodies the sweetness mutually attainable by lovers. Individuals of opposite sex there prefer the desirability and enjoy ability of living together in mutual love and comfort to the constant annoyance and boredom of living as singles. They aim at maximising enjoyment of life. In quite contrast thereto, in Indian society, sex is regarded as something inexorably desirable in itself only through marriage and one would pray while entering conjugal life that the marital relationship should continue even after death in the world of souls. If such social set-up strengthened by moral and ethical ideology is criticised, it would result in adverse impact both emotional and consequential.



Western women

Gendered reference to the females of the western culture or countries.


In Nihal Khan v. State of Haryana[18], examining appeal sentence in a rape case, the judge made the following observations:

“As such, false implication are coming to light, obviously for the reasons that the Indian culture has been tampered with western culture, due to social culture, education and advancement in the society. The Indian girls like the western women could make false accusations regarding the sexual molestation against opposite sex for several reasons, such as:

(1) The female may be a ‘gold digger’ and may well have an economic motive – to extract money by holding out the gun of prosecution or public exposure.

(2) She may be suffering from psychological neurosis and may seek an escape from the neurotic prison by fantasizing or imagining a situation where she is desired, wanted and chased by males.

(3) She may want to wreak vengeance on the male for real or imaginary wrongs. She may have a grudge against a particular male, or males in general, and may have the design to square the account.

(4) She may have been induced to do so in consideration of economic rewards, by a person interested in placing the accused in compromising or embarrassing position, on account of personal or political vendetta.

(5) She may do so to gain notoriety or publicity or to appease her own ego or to satisfy her feeling of self-importance in the context of her inferiority complex.

(6) She may do so on account of jealousy;

(a) to win sympathy of others;

(b) or upon being repulsed.

Though, false implication was much prevalent in the western countries, yet, India is now no exception, where such cases could be detected.”[19]




To have or retain possession of.


The Supreme Court in the judgment of D.Velusamy v. D.Patchaiammal on 21 October, 2010

“In our opinion not all live in relationships will amount to a relationship in the nature of marriag8e to get the benefit of the Act of 2005. To get such benefit the conditions mentioned by us above must be satisfied, and this has to be proved by evidence. If a man has a `keep’ whom he maintains financially and uses mainly for sexual purpose and/or as a servant it would not, in our opinion, be a relationship in the nature of marriage’”




[1] See: ‘A Wife Should Be Like ‘Goddess Sita’: Bombay HC’, Outlook India, May 8, 2012. Accessed from:

[2]       (2006) 3 SCC (Cri) 66

[3]       Sathya vs State on 9 August, 2007 at para 11.

[4]       Vignesh vs State Represented By on 21 August, 2015

[5]       Dalip vs State on 13 April, 2010

[6]       S. Khusboo v. Kanniammal High Court of Madras, decided on 30.4.2008. MANU/TN/1963/2008. Order of High Court set aside by the Supreme Court on appeal in MANU/SC/0310/2010.

[7]        [1974 AIR 799]

[8]       S. Khusboo v. Kanniammal High Court of Madras, decided on 30.4.2008. MANU/TN/1963/2008. Order of High Court set aside by the Supreme Court on appeal in MANU/SC/0310/2010

[9]       [Cr.M.P. (M) No. 1150 of 2015]. Also, MANU/HP/0677/2015. Decided on August 7, 2015

[10]     Ibid. at para 8

[11]     1984 Crl.L.J. 1535

[12]     High Court of Delhi CRL.A. 928/2015. Decided on May 24, 2016

[13]     Ibid. at para 8

[14]          State Of Nagaland vs Lipok Ao & Ors on 1 April, 2005. Supreme Court of India, Appeal (Crl.)  484 of 2005.

[15]     Suo Moto and Others v. The Chief Secretary and Others C/SCA/33/2005 CAV JUDGEMNT Gujarat High Court on 22 March, 2013

[16]     [AIR 1967 Bom

[17]     [(1945) 47 BomLR 242]

[18]     MANU/PH/1019/2010

[19]     Ibid. at para 10 and 11



[Editor’s Note: This Glossary is an ongoing project. It will be updated regularly.]

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