The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that armed forces can take action against their officers for adulterous acts, as it clarified the landmark 2018 judgment that decriminalized adultery.

A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Justice K M Joseph said its 2018 judgment was not concerned with the provisions of the armed forces acts.

The apex court, on a plea filed by NRI Joseph Shine, in 2018 had struck down Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code dealing with the offence of adultery, holding it unconstitutional.

The Tuesday order by the bench, also comprising Justice Ajay Rastogi, Justice Aniruddha Bose, Justice Hrishikesh Roy, and Justice C T Ravikumar came after Additional Solicitor General Madhavi Divan, appearing for the Centre, submitted a plea seeking clarification of the 2018 judgment.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) had moved the apex court for an exemption to armed forces from the September 27, 2018 judgment striking down adultery, saying it may hinder action against officers who indulge in such actions and can cause 'instability' within the services.

"In view of the aforesaid (2018) judgment, there will always be a concern in the minds of the army personnel who are operating far away from their families under challenging conditions about the family indulging in untoward activities," the application said.

With PTI Inputs