The country’s new anti-hijacking law, which prescribes capital punishment in the event of death of “any person”, has come into force following a government notification. The 2016 Anti-Hijacking Act replaces a 1982-vintage law, according to which hijackers could be tried for death penalty only in the event of death of hostages, such as flight crew, passengers and security personnel. In the new law, the definition has been expanded to include 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. The new law, which has come into effect after its notification on July 5, includes several acts within the definition of hijacking including making a threat, attempts or abetment to commit the offence. Those who organise or direct others to commit such offence will also be considered to have committed the offence of hijacking.
The new law mandates the central government to confer powers of investigation, arrest and prosecution on any officer of the central government or National Investigation Agency (NIA). A bill to repeal 1982’s Anti-Hijacking Act in this regard was introduced in Rajya Sabha by Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju on December 17, 2014. After a few days, it was referred to a parliamentary panel which gave its report in March 2015. The bill was passed on May 4, 2016 in the Upper House, and on May 9, 2016 in the Lok Sabha.