The Indian Army is a “conservative” force and adultery and homosexuality are “not acceptable”, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat asserted despite these being decriminalised by the Supreme Court.
Addressing an annual press conference here on Thursday, General Rawat suggested the difficulties of providing basic facilities such as creche to women while discussing the issue of allowing women in combat.
“For LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans) issues, in the Army, these are not acceptable. We will still be dealing with them under various sections of the Army Act,” he said.
The Army Chief was asked if the force would allow these activities in it after the Supreme Court decriminalised adultery and homosexuality in separate judgements in the recent past.
When asked if the Army was above the law of the land as these decisions were given by the apex court, he said: “We are not above the law of the nation, but when someone joins the Indian Army, some of the rights given to the citizens under the Constitution do not apply”.
Furthermore, the Army Chief said the force was not westernised or modernised, adding that in the civilian side too, it is yet to be seen how these things are accepted.
General Rawat said the force was like a big family and has been following “conservative” traditions, and therefore, cannot allow adultery to penetrate.
“We cannot allow this to perpetuate into the Army. The soldier or the officers who are deployed on the border or operational areas leave behind their families at home. We cannot allow them to be worried about their families back home all the time,” he said.
The Army Chief also said the force, under Section 63 of the Army Act, can try soldiers for adultery and unbecoming conduct to deal with the issue, where having an affair with a colleague’s wife is known as stealing the affection of a brother officer’s wife.
While discussing the difficulties faced by the force in allowing women in combat roles and a plea filed by a lady officer for providing creche in office, the chief suggested several new facilities to be created for this purpose.
“In frontline combat, if we have to involve women, we have to give facilities to women there… . I have not seen a creche in the South Block,” he noted.
General Rawat also asked the media how many of their offices had creches while trying to explain the difficulties in deciding on the matter of having woman officers in combat.