Despite multiple appeals to not politicise Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman’s capture and subsequent release by Pakistan, it has already become a major area of interest for politicians campaigning for the Lok Sabha elections.

On Saturday, Delhi Bharatiya Janata Party chief Manoj Tiwari was seen reciting a poem about Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman during the launch of BJP’s Vijay Sankalp bike rally in New Delhi. Tiwari was dressed in Army fatigues.

Can a civilian actually dress in the uniforms of the armed forces (except for the purposes of acting)? The law appears to suggest that it is illegal to do with this the intention of impersonating a member of the armed forces. Tiwari did not, of course, claim to belong to the military himself.

Section 171 of The Indian Penal Code

Wearing garb or carrying token used by public servant with fraudulent intent.

Whoever, not belonging to a certain class of public servants, wears any garb or carries any token resembling any garb or token used by that class of public servants, with the intention that it may be believed, or with the knowledge that it is likely to be believed, that he belongs to that class of public servants, shall be punished with imprisonment of either descrip­tion for a term which may extend to three months, or with fine which may extend to two hundred rupees, or with both.