New Delhi, Sep 8: The Supreme Court verdict on Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code has decriminalised homosexuality but will this also be applicable on armed forces including paramilitary and the state police. Armed forces Act consider acts of homosexuality as an offense and punishable up to seven years in jail.
As per the Army Act, homosexuality is an unbecoming conduct. "Section 45 of the Army Act of 1950 talks about it being an unbecoming conduct of officers and it is punishable with seven years of imprisonment. And Section 46 A calls homosexuality a cruel, indecent and unnatural act and conviction is done through the court martial up to seven years imprisonment. Similarly Section Section 45 of the Air Force Act of 1950 has more or less the same provision except the Navy Act of 1957 that has the provision of two years jail term," Ajay Kumar, a Supreme Court lawyer, told One India.
Ajay Kumar said, "There is a section 69 in the Army Act so whatever is not covered anywhere is dealt under this section as per civil act which is read with Section 377 of the IPC. When Section 377 is no more a crime punishing any armed forces personal will be difficult by invoking section 377. So consensual relation in Armed forces punishable under section 69 will no more apply. It stands demolished for armed forces as well."
What will happen now? Will it open a pandora's box or some changes will be made in the armed forces law as well. The big question is: Will the Army allow such acts to happen in its units? A lawyer from Allahabad High Court Satyajit Chatterjee who deals with cases of armed forces said, "Such cases are in abundance in the armed forces as I deal with as law practitioner." "However, even the fundamental rights of the armed forces personal are suspended under Article 33 of the constitution of India in view of discipline," said Chatterjee.
Ajay Kumar said that world over considering operational efficiency of the armed forces homosexuality was completely banned. It is considered as the serious crime. When changes in homosexuality laws were made in the US and UK, gays were welcomed in the armed forces and now it is very much legal there. It was changed for Army and the police in the US and UK. So the parity is sought in India as well.
But the Supreme Court of India did not set aside the armed forces from this ruling which is very prone to such acts because of the tough life style, long duration of being away from the family and nature of work, there are chances of armed personal getting involved in such acts. Sex is a very natural phenomenon and they were keeping away from this out of fear and now aberration in the law. If there are two consenting adult, will the Army stop them, if it does not stop what will happen? Asked Ajay.
Sources informed that the Army took cognizance of the matter and is in consultation with the people known to the matter and will proceed as per experts suggestions.