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India’s tough anti-hijacking law comes into force

  • Editor
  • July 7, 2017
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India’s new law that ramps up punishment for hijacking and prescribes the death penalty for hijackers who cause loss of life in an aircraft or on the ground came into force on Wednesday. Parliament had cleared the law in 2016 but it hadn’t come into force so far because the government hadn’t framed the rules. The new Anti-Hijacking Act replaces a 1982-vintage law that parliament was felt was far too weak and narrow.

The new law has expanded the definition of a hijacking and covers offences against an aircraft or personnel even when it is on the ground. Any attack on an aircraft when it is being prepared for a flight to 24 hours after it has landed will be considered under laws that deal with hijack. This is to include the possibility of a silent attack with biological weapons, the impact of which could be felt even a day later.

In the new law, the definition has been expanded to include the death of “security personnel on board” or “ground support staff” as well. In other cases of hijacking, guilty will be punished with imprisonment for life and fine, besides confiscation of movable and immovable property held by him or her. Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju, who had piloted the bill, had told parliament that the country had witnessed 19 hijacking incidents in India.

The 2016 Anti-Hijacking Act, which has come into effect, also includes several acts within the definition of hijacking including making a threat, attempts or abetment to commit the offence. Those organise or directs others to commit such offence will also be considered to have committed the offence of hijacking. The new law incorporates the latest global anti-hijack provisions and brings Indian law in line with the Beijing Protocol of the UN body International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

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