An Indian judge who called pre-marital sex “immoral” and against “the tenets of every religion” has been criticised by activists who say his remarks highlight gender insensitivity within the judiciary and the challenges faced by victims of sex crimes in seeking justice.

Judge Virender Bhat, who presides over a fast-track court which hears cases of sexual offences, made the remarks after ruling in one case that there was insufficient evidence that a man had duped a woman into having sex with him by promising marriage.

According to the Indian Penal Code, a man who has sexual intercourse with a woman after obtaining her consent on the false promise of marriage is committing rape.

“In my opinion, every act of sexual intercourse between two adults on the assurance of promise of marriage does not become rape, if the assurance or promise is not fulfilled later on by the boy,” the judge said.

“He may or may not do so. She must understand that she is engaging in an act which not only is immoral but also against the tenets of every religion. No religion in the world allows pre-marital sex,” he added, acquitting the accused of rape.