Adultery in armed forces: Supreme Court says disciplinary actions must

Adultery in armed forces: Supreme Court says disciplinary actions must

The top court, in 2018, struck down Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code, dealing with the offence of adultery while holding it unconstitutional.

Stating that adultery creates pain in a family and should not be treated lightly, the Supreme Court on Thursday said that the armed forces must have some kind of mechanism for disciplinary proceedings against officers for adultery.

A five-judge constitution bench headed by Justice KM Joseph said, "This (adultery) is going to shake the discipline in the armed forces. Armed forces must have some kind of assurance that they will take action. How can you cite Joseph Shine (judgement) and say it cannot be?"

The top court, in 2018, struck down Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code, dealing with the offence of adultery while holding it unconstitutional.

"Adultery creates pain in a family. We have held so many sessions as judges in the high courts and seen so many families being torn. We are telling you do not treat this in a lighter manner," the bench said.

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"In uniformed services, there has to be discipline. If a private employer can be permitted to do it, then why not the forces? If it concerns, possibly, the breaking up of a family," the bench observed.

ASG Madhavi Divan appearing for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) had moved the top court saying that the September 27, 2018 judgement striking down adultery as an offence could come in the way of armed forces personnel being convicted for adulterous acts and said, "We have to stand up for our officers, who are fighting for us on ground."

"I am only saying that there is a large number of cases in Aft and so many disciplinary actions have been started and we have to keep the confidence of the armed forces high," she said.

However, the bench said there is nothing in the 2018 judgement which precludes the armed forces and it can challenge the individual orders of the AFT.

ASG Diwan sought time to go through the 2018 judgement in detail and slated the hearing for December 6.

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