A year after the Supreme Court decriminalised homosexuality and adultery in separate judgments, the Indian Army is looking at options to ensure these remain punishable offenses to ensure discipline in the force.
Sources said the Army has given a representation to the Ministry of Defence (MoD), raising concerns over homosexuality and adultery within the force going “unnoticed or unpunished”.
The Army wants both these offenses to be punishable under Section 45 of the Army Act which deals with the “unbecoming conduct” of officers or troops.
“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,” the section reads.
Outgoing Adjutant General of the Indian Army Lt General Ashwani Kumar in an interaction on Wednesday clarified on the subject, saying nothing will be done that will violate the Supreme Court orders.
“The Supreme Court’s judgments are law of the land and will be abided within the Army,” he said.
However, he added the Army Act was passed by Parliament and there are provisions to deal with the “unbecoming conduct” of Army personnel.
The Adjutant General’s branch is responsible for the welfare and also deals with complaints of all kinds against the Army personnel at all levels.
On being asked whether the Army will go for a review of the Supreme Court judgment to ensure homosexuality and adultery remain punishable in the force, he said, “How do you know we haven’t already done so.”
The officials say “keeping both the acts punishable will be deterrent as it can lead to severe discipline issues and create a command and control problem”.
“We have to think of the environment in the barracks of the soldiers. Nothing should lead to lowering their morale.”
Army Chief General Bipin Rawat has also said in the past that homosexuality and adultery cannot be acceptable in the Army.