The Indian Army has written to the Ministry of Defence to ensure homosexuality and adultery remains punishable offences, sources said on Thursday. This comes even after the Supreme Court decriminalised homosexuality and adultery.
The Indian Army wants both the offences to be punishable under Section 45 of the Army Act that deals with ‘Unbecoming Conduct’.
According to section 45 of the Army Act, “Any officer, junior commissioned officer or warrant officer who behaves in a manner unbecoming his position and the character expected of him shall, on conviction by court-martial, if he is an officer, be liable to be cashiered or to suffer such less punishment as is in this Act mentioned; and, if he is a junior commissioned officer or a warrant officer, be liable to be dismissed or to suffer such less punishment as is in this Act mentioned.”
Outgoing Indian Army Adjutant General Lieutenant General Ashwani Kumar has clarified that they will not do anything that will violate the law of the land.
“The Supreme Court’s judgments are law of the land and will be abided within the Army,” he said. The officer, however, stressed that the Army Act was passed by Parliament and there are provisions to deal with ‘Unbecoming Conduct’.
Article 33 of the Constitution empowers the Parliament to restrict or abrogate the fundamental rights of uniformed personnel to maintain discipline and ensure the proper discharge of their duties.
The officer also said that keeping both the offences punishable will be a deterrent for the wrong people. “We have to think of the environment in the barracks of soldiers. Nothing should lead to lowering their morale,” Lieutenant General Kumar, who superannuated on Thursday.
Kumar stressed that there is no place for such offences in the over 12-lakh strong army as it is a disciplined force. He clarified that any soldier or officer indulging in either consensual same-sex acts or extra-marital affairs — the latter called “stealing the affections of a brother officer’s wife” in military parlance — will have to face stringent action through court-martial for violating military order, discipline and conduct.
The officer clarified that when one joins the Indian Army he or she does not get some of the rights and privileges like other citizens are authorised under the Constitution. So, all men in the force will have to abide by the Indian Army Act and rules.