What is adultery?

The following are the elements of Adultery :

  • Women are not affected; it only applies to men. As a result, this clause does not hold women accountable.
  • In contrast to other crimes, which are gender-neutral, they are always regarded as the victim in this situation.
  • There must be an adulterous relationship between a married woman and a man who is either already married or single. Without the husband of the married woman’s consent, it must be done.
Adultery in the Army

Why is adultery no longer a criminal offense?

  • However, in Joseph Shine v. Union of India in 2018, the Supreme Court struck down this provision. Adultery is no longer a crime in India as a result.
  • The 158-year-old law was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court because it violated Articles 21 (Right to Life and Personal Liberty) and 14 (Right to Property) (Right to Equality).
  • The Supreme Court also found that the CrPC’s Sections 198(1) and 198(2), which permit a spouse to accuse the man his wife had an affair with, are unconstitutional. I

The Supreme Court’s decision to decriminalize adultery has had a significant impact on the armed forces

The decision did, however, put the armed forces in a challenging predicament. The armed forces became unstable as a result of the 2018 verdict. Is decriminalizing adultery in the military forces appropriate in this case?

The Supreme Court’s 2018 ruling that removed adultery from the list of crimes dissatisfied the military, especially the 1.3 million-person army. Following the submission of the case, the chief justice of India gave orders for the formation of a five-judge bench to assess the effects of the 2018 decision on the armed services.

How difficult it must be for army commanders to be separated from their loved ones for so long, only to return home and discover that they were duped while protecting the country. People who serve in the military are admired and regarded as heroes. However, the difficulties they face in their personal and marital lives are just as real as ours.

Advocate Govind Bali is known for Armed Forces Tribunal Cases

Adultery and the army laws

The Armed Forces see themselves as a vast family that values commitment, respect, and mutual trust. As a result, military law defines adultery as stealing an officer’s brother’s wife. It is barely a step above cowardice, which carries a death sentence as a penalty.

The crime of stealing a fellow officer’s wife’s affection is punishable under Section 497; however, it is not a stand-alone offense. Section 69 of the Army Act is construed in combination with Section 497 to punish officers for adultery.

In Section 69, employees’ civil offenses are discussed, and punishment is given based on how serious the offense was according to Indian law.

Sections 45 and 63 of the Army Act of 1950 are used to punish general indiscipline in the Army. “Unbecoming conduct,” which is a reason for military discharge, is referred to in Section 45. Conduct that undermines law and order and military discipline is covered by Section 63.

The scope of this section’s application is fairly broad, and it might include adultery among many other offenses.

In Section 53 of the Navy Act of 1957, the penalties for “indecent behavior” in the Navy are laid out. Military tribunals would no longer punish officers under Section 497 after it was repealed.

According to Article 33 of the Indian Constitution, the Army Act, Navy Act, and Air Force Act are all protected.

Article 33 and Adultery

  • It covers Parliament’s ability to change the rights given by Part III in their application, and so on.
  • By law, Parliament may determine to what degree any of the rights granted by this Part should apply to:
    1. Armed Forces personnel
    2. Personnel of the armed forces tasked with maintaining public order; or
    3. Employees of any intelligence or counterintelligence bureau or other organization established by the state;
    4. People engaged in, or in connection with, telecommunication networks set up for the purposes of any force, bureau, or organization mentioned in paragraphs (a) to (c), should be restricted or abrogated in order to guarantee proper fulfillment of their responsibilities and the preservation of discipline among them. [iii]

The Judgment on Adultery

Attorney General K. K. Venugopal said: “
When Jawans and officers are stationed at forward areas, they should not be concerned about their families safety, and they should not be disturbed by the possibility that someone may engage in an adulterous connection with their family members if adultery is decriminalized.” That is why adultery should be classified as unbecoming conduct under the Army, Navy, and Air Force Acts. In addition, if a man or woman in uniform is found guilty of adultery, the laws will apply to both men and women in uniform. �[iv]

The bench, led by Justice Nariman, agreed with Justice Venugopal and, by quoting Article 33, concluded that adultery may continue to be an offense under the armed forces’ “unbecoming act” clause.

Also, read 5 Differences Between RTI V/S National Security


The military is unique compared to other service branches. For example, some of the most important freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution don’t apply to them. For example, men in uniform can’t join political parties while doing their jobs, they can’t form unions, and their right to free speech is limited. Because of this, and for the same reason, the armed forces should not be affected by the repeal of Section 497.

It’s critical to understand that armed troops function in a setting that is very different from that of civilians. Quality of service is honor. The unwritten code of conduct for military personnel demands bravery and devotion to duty, even at the risk of one’s life.

Since these are acts of wrongdoing, promiscuity or adultery by people who are subject to the army act, navy act, or air force act would still be crimes for which criminal or disciplinary action could be taken under section 63 or section 45 of the army act and the corresponding sections of the navy act and air force act. The quality of life a fighting soldier has at home adds to the military’s overall assets and helps the organization do better in battle. Therefore, adultery should still be a crime in the military.

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  1.  (“Adultery and the Armed Forces”) 

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