Wearing Of Military Uniforms By Unauthorised Persons : By Maj Navdeep Singh

Section 171. 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.

A good provision. The problem however is that for invoking this, it needs to be proved that the person wearing such uniform is doing so with the intention of making others believe that he belongs to that particular class of public servants. Merely wearing a uniform without such intention or knowledge is not an offence under the section.

However, I’m sure that many readers may not be aware of a more proactive provision brought into force by our law makers particularly for Security agencies. I’m referring to Section 21 of ‘The Private Security Agencies (Regulation) Act, 2005’. It reads as follows :

Section 21. Penalty for unauthorised use of certain uniforms

If any private security guard or supervisor wears the uniform of the Army, Air Force, Navy or any other armed forces of the Union or Police or any dress having the appearance or bearing any of the distinctive marks of that uniform, he and the proprietor of the private security agency shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with fine which may extend to five thousand rupees, or with both.

As can be seen from above, there is no need to prove an intention under this section and any person wearing uniform similar to that of any uniformed service (along with the proprietor of the said private security agency) can be imprisoned for a term upto one year or with a fine of Rs 5000 or both. The scale of imprisonment is higher than Section 171 of the IPC which provides for an incarceration upto three months or fine upto Rs 200 or both. The provision is applicable only to private security agencies and staff, but practically speaking it is only these private security agencies which are flouting the dignity of military uniforms with impunity. I would hence request all, especially serving officers dealing with the subject, to quote the ibid Section of the Act of 2005 alongwith the provisions of the IPC when pursuing the said matter.

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