The Supreme Court judgment on adultery is likely to put the armed forces in a quandary because it takes the offence of “stealing the affection of a brother officer’s lady wife” very seriously.
The charge of “violating good order and military discipline” can still be pressed against an officer for adultery under Section 63 of the Army Act, and its equivalent sections in Air Force Act and the Navy Act.
But while that charge can be heard by military courts, it is now likely to be overturned in higher courts after Thursday’s judgment in which the apex court struck down Section 497 of the IPC and ruled that adultery should not be treated as a criminal offence.
Army Chief General Bipin Rawat has issued clear instructions to commanders that no leniency should be shown in initiating investigations in cases of “moral turpitude”. Even when the relationship is consensual, it will not be allowed as the top brass feels that the armed forces is a big family and showing leniency in such cases may affect its moral fabric.