Stating that adultery can bring much pain to the family, the Supreme Court on Thursday said that the Armed forces, which are paramount to discipline, should have mechanisms to act against personnel indulging in such offences.
Heading a five-judge Constitution bench, Justice K M Joseph said, "In armed forces where discipline is of paramount importance, this is a conduct that can shake up the life of officers… and the armed forces must be able to take some kind of action."
The top court, in 2018, struck down Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code, dealing with the offence of adultery while holding it unconstitutional.
“Adultery creates pain in a family. We have held so many sessions as judges in the high courts and seen so many families being torn. We are saying you do not treat this in a lighter manner," the bench said.
The court was hearing a plea by the Ministry urging the court to clarify that Army personnel can be proceeded under the Army Act for acts of adultery, notwithstanding the 2018 judgment.
Additional Solicitor General Madhavi Divan, appearing for the government said that earlier the Court had taken action against personnel indulging in adultery. However, the Armed Forces Tribunal, citing the 2018 judgment had quashed several proceedings against adultery.
Adjourning the hearing to December 6, Justice Joseph remarked, “Adultery causes pain and breaks families.” He added, “We have seen in High Courts while dealing with matrimonial cases, how families are torn. We are telling you don’t treat this in a light-handed matter.”