The military is not happy with a 2018 Supreme Court verdict of scrapping out adultery as a criminal offence. They are likely to approach the apex court to exclude the defence forces from the ambit of the judgment.
The Indian Army has raised the issue with the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
With the removal of section 497 of IPC that criminalised adultery, the military is worried about the discipline among its ranks. In the military, the offence of ‘stealing the affections of brother officer’s wife – a euphemism for adultery – is a serious offence that is a notch below cowardice’ which is punishable.
The punishment for this derives its power from section 497 and is not a standalone offence. Similar provisions existed in all three forces and prosecutions usually lead to the accused officer’s dismissal from the force.
In September 2018, the SC had scrapped adultery as a criminal offence ruling that the 19th century law that treats a husband as the master was unconstitutional.
The then Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra had said that the adultery law is arbitrary and it offends the dignity of a woman. He had led the five-judge bench. Section 497 made it an offence if a man had sex with the wife of another married man without his “connivance” or “consent”.
In August 2019, the SC has quashed General Court Marshal (GCM) proceedings that found a colonel guilty of adultery. The serving decorated colonel serving in Jammu and Kashmir was reinstated by the top court.