Indian Army doesn't welcome adultery, LGBT: Rawat

Indian Army doesn't welcome adultery, LGBT: Rawat

Army Chief Gen Bilin Rawat. File photo

Indian Army is a conservative organisation that still considers adultery as a serious offence and people belonging to the LGBT community has no place in the Army at least, for the time being, Chief of the Army Staff Gen Bipin Rawat said here on Thursday.

Gen Rawat's comments came months after two historic verdicts from the Supreme Court that decriminalised adultery as an offence and ruled that the State had no business to look into the bedroom of individual adults even if they are of same sex.

Asked about Army's views on the SC rulings on Section 377 (homosexuality law) and Section 497 (adultery law) of Indian Penal Code, Gen Rawat said, "Army is conservative. We are not modernised, neither are we westernised. We are conservative.”

For decades “stealing the affection of a brother officer's wife” is considered a serious offence in the armed forces where people are posted in the forward areas or conflict zones for months without their families.

“Army is a family. There are soldiers, be it an officer or jawan, who are posted out without the field area family accommodation facility. They can't be allowed to worry for the family. Its reasonable for the soldiers to be assured that their families are safe,” Gen Rawat.

In September, the Supreme Court had decriminalised adultery pointing out that the existing law drafted in 1860 treated a married woman as a chattel, deprived her of sexual autonomy by perpetuating stereotypes in society.

“Adultery does not fit into the concept of a crime. If it is treated as a crime, there would be an immense intrusion into the extreme privacy of the matrimonial sphere. It is better to be left as a ground for divorce,” a five-judge bench presided over by then Chief Justice Dipak Misra had stated in the ruling that has significant social consequences.

This is not the first time Gen Rawat had cautioned his men to enter into an adulterous affair in the cantonments. He had stated that such offences would continue to be seen seriously and the usual plea of “consensual affair” would not hold water.

The Army employs nearly 13 lakh individuals.

Gen Rawat ruled out the entry of the members of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community in the Army even after the apex court's September ruling on the decriminalisation of homosexuality, at least for the moment.

We are not above the country's law but when you join the Indian Army, some of the rights and privileges you enjoy are not what we have. There are some issues where we are different. We are different because some things have been made different for us, but we are certainly not above the Supreme Court," he said.

"We will have to see how we take a call, let us also see how it comes into the society, whether it's accepted or not... I can't say what will happen 20 years down the line."

A five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court had ruled decriminalisation of same sex relationship between two consenting adults, making it aptly clear that the penal provision was against the right to live with dignity.

The top court said any discrimination on the basis of one's sexual orientation was violative of fundamental rights, guaranteed under the Constitution.