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Homosexuality and adultery unacceptable in Army: Bipin Rawat

A person charged under Section 46 of the Army Act is guilty of disgraceful conduct of a “cruel, indecent or unnatural kind”.

Updated: Jan 11, 2019, 08.42 AM IST
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“The Army is conservative. We have not modernised, neither westernised," said Bipin Rawat.
NEW DELHI: Homosexuality and adultery are unacceptable in the military, said Army chief General Bipin Rawat on Thursday, adding that the force is “conservative” and has not “modernised”.

Although Rawat said that the Army is not above the country’s law, he explained that certain rights that are given to civilians cannot be applicable to the armed forces. This indicates the strong position taken by the defence services against homosexuality and adultery.

The Supreme Court had in September 2018 decriminalised a part of the British-era Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. Although it was a landmark ruling for the LGBT community, it didn’t lead to a change in the defence services which are governed by their own Acts and ban homosexuality, treating it as a punishable offence.

A person charged under Section 46 of the Army Act is guilty of disgraceful conduct of a “cruel, indecent or unnatural kind”. It implies committing an offence under the Section 377 of the IPC.

Addressing the army’s annual press conference, Rawat while speaking on LGBT issues said, “In the army these are not acceptable. We will still be dealing with them under various sections of the army act.”

Even on adultery he added, “Gentlemen, the army is conservative...we have not modernised, neither westernised...We can still take action against people but we will not allow this to perpetrate in the army. This cannot be allowed to happen. It is a very serious matter.”

Explaining his stand, the army chief said, “a lot of soldiers who are serving on the border, leave their families behind...There is someone deputed from the local station to look after these families. That officer of jawan who is sitting at the border cannot be worried about whether his family is cared for... He has to be reasonably assured that his family is cared for and they will face no problem.”

The Supreme Court, however, last year also ruled that adultery is not a crime. When asked whether the army is ‘above the law of the land’, Rawat replied,“We are not above the country’s law, but in the Indian Army when you join it, some of my rights and privileges that are authorised to you by constitution are not authorised to me...There are some issues where we are different...we are not above the Supreme Court.”

He explained that the army will take a call on the court’s verdict. But he also pointed out, “Let us see how this comes into the society. Aap logo ke yaha chalega to chalne do. Humare yaha nahi. Dekhte hain aap logon me kitna chalega. (If it happens at your place, let it happen, but it won’t happen in the army. Let’s see how long it will last) Let us watch. Aap ke media chalega ya kitna chalega... After all when these things start happening in the country lets see what will happen...I can’t say what will happen 20 years down the line.”

“The Army is conservative. We have not modernised, neither westernised. We can still take action against people, but we will not allow this to perpetrate in the Army. This cannot be allowed to happen. It is a very serious matter,” Rawat said.

The SC had last year also ruled that adultery is not a crime. “Some of my rights and privileges that are authorised to you by the Constitution are not authorised to me. There are some issues where we are different.”
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