The Indian Army wants homosexuality and adultery to remain as punishable offences to ensure discipline and has made a representation to the Defence Ministry, a year after the Supreme Court decriminalised these acts, sources said on Thursday. The sources also said 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 apex court last year decriminalised homosexuality and adultery.
The sources said the Army has approached the Ministry of Defence raising concern over the decriminalisation of the acts in question. They said keeping the actions punishable would act as a deterrent, failing which there would be severe discipline issues and create a command and control problem.
At an interaction with reporters on Wednesday, General Ashwani Kumar, the Adjutant General in the Indian Army, said some cases could be "legally right but ethically wrong". 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 Kumar, who superannuated on Thursday. Asked whether the Army will go for a review of the apex 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. An officer, who faces charges of homosexuality, will now may 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," 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," Rawat had said.