The Indian Army, in particular, has raised the matter with the Ministry of Defence (MoD), ” said a senior army officer who didn’t wish to be named. “We will approach the court soon,” the official added.
Together with the quashing of section 497 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalised adultery, the army is concerned about”field among its ranks”.
In the army, the offence of”stealing the affections of brother ‘s wife — a euphemism for adultery — is a serious offence that is a notch below”cowardice”, which is punishable with death.
The punishment for”stealing the affection of a brother officer’s wife” derives its power from department 497 and isn’t a standalone offence.
“Scrapping of [section] 497 therefore has thrown up a challenging situation,” said a second senior army officer who didn’t wish to be named. “Officers and men stay away from families and are looked after by others, there needs to be some deterrence to handle deviant behaviour,” the officer added.
“The adultery law is random and it offends the dignity of a woman,” then Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, who headed the five-judge seat, had observed. Section 497 made it an offence if a man had sex with the spouse of another married man with no”connivance” or”permission”. But only men, rather than women, might be prosecuted.
In August this year, the SC quashed General Court Marshal (GCM) event that saw a colonel guilty of adultery. The serving decorated colonel serving in Jammu and Kashmir — against whom proceedings were initiated from the military in March 2016 for supposedly having two alcoholic experiences with the spouse of retired officer — was reinstated by the top court.
The retired officer had complained to the military, triggering the GCM proceedings.
Until now, any complaints of extramarital relationships within the army were managed through two terms of the Army Act –“conduct unbecoming of an officer” and run that disturbed”good order and military discipline”.
However, the scrapping of section 497 had seriously restricted the capability of the army to act against officers charged with such offences. “When officers and men are off, the last thing on their mind ought to be how their families are” a third senior official said, describing the need for excluding the military from the ambit of the September 2018 judgment.
“The military is not like any other support. As an example, some basic rights enshrined in the Constitution does not apply to us, for example, men in uniform can not join a political party when in service, can’t form unions and there are curbs on freedom of speech. Similarly, the scrapping of section 497 should not apply to the army,” the next officer included.
However, the military still has many techniques to punish individuals for deviant behaviour,” she said.
The debate around the adultery law started soon after the top court’s ruling this past year.
He agreed that the section –that was”very poorly worded” –had to be struck down, but added that the court hadn’t stopped at that.
“The court went a step further, as it said adultery was similar to other matrimonial offences, these are private wrongs rather than public wrongs and therefore beyond the purview of criminal law. Now will it insure bigamy and polygamy also? Can it cover cruelty? Can it cover dowry offences — if this was the logic, the ruling would be wholly anti ladies,” Jaitley had stated.
The judgment could, he’d detected, alter the Indian family structure to a western system, where the fragility of marriage and associations might increase. He added that India had the sort of social safety internet nor divorce settlements that the West had, this outcome of the judgment could effectively drive many girls to destitution.