The Army has made a representation in the Defence Ministry that it wants homosexuality and adultery to remain as punishable offences to ensure discipline. The move comes a year after the Supreme Court decriminalised these acts, sources said on Thursday.
The sources further said that the Army Act had a provision under which its personnel can be charged for homosexuality and adultery, but now it will be under another provision of the same Act.
The army has approached the Ministry of Defence raising concern over the decriminalisation of the acts in question, the sources told news agency PTI.
Severe disciplinary issues would crop up and create a command and control problem if the actions would not be kept punishable as it acts as a deterrent.
General Ashwani Kumar, the Adjutant General in the Indian Army, said some cases could be “legally right but ethically wrong,” while taking to journalists on Wednesday.
The Adjutant General’s branch is responsible for welfare and also deals with different type of complaints against the Army personnel at all levels.
“Anything told by the Supreme Court is the law of the land and has to be abided,” said General Kumar, who superannuated on Thursday.
Asked whether the Army will go for a review of the top court judgment, he replied “How do you know that we haven’t already done so?” The Army deals with cases of homosexuality and adultery under the relevant sections of the Army Act that prescribe punishment unbecoming of an officer, he said.
If an officer faces charges of homosexuality, he might not be tried under Section 46 of the Army Act, but under section 45 for “behaving in a manner unbecoming of his position and character expected of him”.
Section 46 prescribes punishment for “any disgraceful conduct of a cruel, indecent or unnatural kind”.
“Moral turpitude and corruption cannot be accepted,” General Kumar said.
He said 5 to 6 officers have been punished for moral turpitude but did not elaborate on the charges.
The conduct of the Army personnel is governed by the Army Act.
Cases of homosexuality and adultery are still considered taboo in the Army. In its parlance, the army prosecutes officer for adultery on charges of “stealing affection of a brother’s wife”.
Earlier this year, Army chief General Bipin Rawat had said gay sex and adultery will not be allowed in the army. “In the Army we never thought this can happen. Anything that was thought of was put in the Army Act. It was something which was unheard of when the Army Act was made. We never thought this is going to happen. We never allow it. Therefore it was not put in the Army Act,”he said.
(With inputs from PTI)