Hearing on adultery of officers in Armed Forces
Hearing on the adultery of officers in Armed Forces: SC said - Mechanism should be made for action against such officers, this will affect the discipline
The Supreme Court on Thursday said that the Armed Forces should have some kind of mechanism for disciplinary action against Army officers for adultery. The court said that this is conduct which can ruin the lives of the officers. This also affects the discipline of the Armed Forces.
The court held that adultery separates a family. Such matters should not be taken lightly. Discipline is the most important thing in the Armed Forces. Everyone is dependent on the family as a unit of society. The integrity of society is based on the loyalty of one spouse to the other. The Bench said these things during the hearing on a petition filed by the Central Government. The plea sought an explanation in the 2018 judgment keeping adultery as an offence under the IPC. It said that it should not apply to the Armed Forces. This includes a case of adultery with the wife of his fellow worker.
The Center said that according to Article 33 of the Constitution, the application of fundamental rights of the members of the Armed Forces is prohibited. In this petition, it is said that the apex court had given a judgment in 2018, in which the disciplinary action on adultery was declared unconstitutional. This judgment cannot be used to stop disciplinary proceedings against the guilty.
A Constitution Bench headed by Justice KM Joseph orally said – All of you lawyers are aware of the deep pain that adultery creates in a family. We have seen how families break up because of adultery. We are just telling you not to take it lightly. We have called many sessions as judges in high courts.
Justice Joseph pointed out that a mother filed a petition seeking custody of her children after adultery. The children refused to talk to the mother. If you have experience, you will know what happens in the family when adultery occurs. The bench comprising Justice Ajay Rastogi, Justice Aniruddha Bose, Justice Hrishikesh Roy, and Justice C.T. Ravikumar was present.
In 2018, the apex court dismissed IPC section 497 as unconstitutional on a petition filed by NRI Joseph Shine. Section 497 was created to deal with offences involving adultery. Additional Solicitor General Madhavi Divan, on behalf of the Centre, had filed a petition seeking clarification of the 2018 verdict.
The Ministry of Defense (MoD) had moved the apex court, saying that its September 27, 2018 decision to include adultery as an offence could come in the way of conviction of armed forces officers for adulterous activities. Divan told the bench that disciplinary action was taken against some army personnel for adultery. However, the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) quashed such proceedings in several cases citing Joseph Shine's decision.
Diwan said that the abolition of section 497 will not hinder the taking action against the officers of the Armed Forces for unfair conduct. The disciplinary action taken in the Army is gender neutral. If any female officer is found indulging in adultery activities, then she will have to face action.
To this, the court said that there was nothing in the 2018 judgment which barred the Armed Forces. It can challenge individual orders of AFT. The Additional Solicitor General sought time from the court to go through the 2018 judgment in detail. After this, the SC has fixed December 6 for the hearing of the matter.