Dear Sir/Madam, as per your query, my answer is that, According to the present Indian laws, the engagement does not amount to marriage. Marriage, in the eyes of law, is sacramental. The marriage rituals are recognized by the Indian laws and not 'Engagement'. There would be no legal consequences if you break off the engagement to the person whom you are engaged to. Since marriage was not solemnized according to the laws.
But if you have exchanged any gifts or consideration during and after the engagement then it would be suggested to return all those gifts to the other party because the other party may institute a suit against your family for cheating or fraud. And similarly you can also reimburse the gifts or any consideration which you have vested on the other party during or after the party. Other than that if you want to break your engagement then you are free to break it since there is no legal status given to the 'engagement'. But there are some legal actions which could be taken against you and are as follows -
Legal Actions which can be taken against you -
1. Breach of Promise :- To prove breach of promise the other party must prove that you had in past promised to marry him. And he had acted and adjusted his lifestyle because of the promise to marry. And, lastly resulting to monetary loss. If these conditions are proved by the other party then the breach of promise to marry is proved then you will liable to pay for damages.
In Mukesh v State of Karnataka (2014) where it was said if there is a promise to marry and which has been breached then the other person can institute a civil case and claim damages.
In Rudresh v State of Karnataka (2014) where Court held that the breach of contract only institute civil suit for damages and should not be considered as an offence.
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."
Cheating is a punishable offence under Indian Penal Code. If Cheating is proved by the party then the other party can be sentenced for one year imprisonment or fine or both under section 417 of Indian Penal Code. [Christian Chidieere Chukwu v State of Karntaka (2016)]
But you have the stronger probability to win the case since you can prove through the messages that how the person has been behaving. You can also admit other evidences which shows that the person has been harassing you. But if he institute a case saying that it resulted in damage to bodily harm, mind or reputation or property then you have to show stronger evidence to prove that it did not.
Loss of reputation led to difficulty in finding another match for the other party, said in N. Sukumaran Nair v P. Narayanan (1996). Similarly, mental trauma or bodily harm is proved by then it is punishable under IPC.
Remedy : Even then if the other party is still threatening you to marry then you can seek the help of police after breaking off the engagement.
Note : If the other legal recourse are failed even then Courts have been recently granting compensation to the party if the other party breaks off the engagement because of the trauma and pain they had to go through. Also, the money spent on . Although you will not be forced to marry the person who you are engaged to.
.... by Chandrashekhar Vithal Jadhav, Advocate & Law Consultant, Bangalore.