It has been a year since the Supreme Court, in separate landmark judgements, decriminalised homosexuality and adultery. But, the Indian Army has a different opinion. Much to our surprise, the Army, in its bid to "ensure discipline"' in the force, is seeking options for these to remain punishable offences.
Reports suggest that the Indian Army has sent a representation to the Ministry of Defence (MoD), that raises concern over acts of both adultery and homosexuality going "unnoticed". They also think that it is "unbecoming" of brave soldiers to act in a manner like this.
According to media reports, the Army also had a provision in its Act under which its personnel can be charged for homosexuality and adultery. The armed forces, however, will now put this under a different section in the same 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," the section reads.
In an interaction with the media, the outgoing Adjutant General of the Indian Army, Lt General Ashwani Kumar, issued clarifications on the same. He said, "The Supreme Court's judgments are law of the land and will be abided within the Army." In a conference on Wednesday, he was further questioned if the Army will opt for a review of the Apex Court order, to which he said, "How do you know we haven't already done so."
The officials maintain that "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."
This is not the first time that the Indian Army has raised objections over homosexuality and adultery being acceptable in the force. Earlier this year, the Army Chief, Gen Bipin Rawat had said, "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."
We can only wait and see whether a progressive mindset does actually threaten disciplinary attitude in the Indian Army and if the force's argument stands its ground in the times to come.