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Army asks defence ministry to retain homosexuality, adultery as punishable offences

The army believes that allowing homosexuality and adultery will break the fabric that binds it together and effect its teamwork spirit, which will damage the outcome of its combat related tasks. Officials explained this is especially crucial for cases such as the wife of a soldier posted in a remote area, having an affair with his co-soldier.

Oct 31, 2019, 08.46 PM IST
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Earlier this year the army made its stand clear, with its chief General Bipin Rawat stating that homosexuality and adultery are not acceptable in the force.
NEW DELHI: The army is finding it difficult to implement the Supreme Court’s judgements decriminalising homosexuality and adultery and is looking at ways to move around the challenge. It has sent a proposal to the defence ministry to ensure that homosexuality and adultery remain punishable offences in the force.

The army believes that allowing homosexuality and adultery will break the fabric that binds it together and effect its teamwork spirit, which will damage the outcome of its combat related tasks. Officials explained this is especially crucial for cases such as the wife of a soldier posted in a remote area, having an affair with his co-soldier. The army still can charge its soldiers for adultery and homosexuality under section 45 (unbecoming conduct) of the Army Act.

The army’s Adjutant General Lieutenant General Ashwani Kumar, who deals with such cases, said that since he began his tenure as the AG in 2017, he was tasked with ensuring that cases of moral turpitude and corruption don’t go unpunished. “The Army Chief placed a target that before his tenure ends, five to six officers must go (for alleged involvement in such matters). And until now more than these many have gone,” said Kumar, adding that they were charged for moral turpitude, ‘stealing affection of brother officer wife’ and even ‘stealing affection of sister officer’s husband’, which are commonly known as adultery.

Adding that moral turpitude and corruption can’t be tolerated in the army, Kumar said a Major General was recently court martialed and ‘sent home’, while another officer of the same rank is being examined for allegedly being involved in such matters. “We have made the cases in such a manner that he gets no redressal from anywhere,” he added.

Last year, the Supreme Court decriminalised both adultery and homosexuality. The army says that it is in a ‘legal dilemma’ over this. When asked if the army will review the judgements to ensure that the two matters remain punishable in the force, Kumar said, “how do you know we haven’t done so”.

However, Kumar added, “A Supreme Court judgement on any aspect is the law of the land and it will be abided in the armed forces.”

But, earlier this year the army made its stand clear, with its chief General Bipin Rawat stating that homosexuality and adultery are not acceptable in the force. He explained that such cases will be dealt with under the Army Act.

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