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