Seeking permission before kissing a woman may be the etiquette elsewhere, but not in the air force, where one such request landed an officer behind bars for two months.
The air officer commanding-in-chief (AOC-in-C), maintenance command, confirmed the development.
A woman flying officer, who held the charge of duty staff officer on March 21, 2010, was being escorted in a vehicle driven by corporal Hemen Pathak of 3 Base Repair Depot, Chandigarh. Suddenly, the corporal stopped the vehicle and asked the officer if he could kiss her.
Taken aback, the official reprimanded him, following which Pathak apologised. She sounded the guards and the non-commissioned officer on duty after which he was placed under arrest. She also reported the matter to higher authorities.
A court of inquiry was conducted, which also found that Pathak was not in proper uniform when the incident happened. He was tried and on June 22, 2010, a punishment of "severe reprimand" was awarded to him for sexually harassing an officer and irresponsible behaviour.
As the powers of the commanding officer to dispose of civil offences are limited, the minor punishment was set aside on July 27, 2010.
Later, fresh disciplinary proceedings were initiated and a district court martial ordered to conduct an inquiry against Pathak.
On August 25, Pathak pleaded guilty on both counts and was given two months' imprisonment and demoted. He has appealed against the sentence at the Chandigarh bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal.