New anti-hijacking bill cleared by Cabinet, gets more teeth

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Published: July 29, 2015 11:27:47 PM

A comprehensive anti-hijack bill that provides for death penalty for hijackers even in the event of on-ground staff casualties was today approved by the Union Cabinet which also widened the definition of this crime.

A comprehensive anti-hijack bill that provides for death penalty for hijackers even in the event of on-ground staff casualties was today approved by the Union Cabinet which also widened the definition of this crime.

Almost 16 years after an Indian Airlines aircraft was hijacked in Kandahar, the tough measures were cleared by the Cabinet at its meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi through amendments in the Anti-Hijacking Bill, 2014.

In the earlier Bill, hijackers could be tried for death penalty only in the event of death of hostages, such as flight crew, passengers and security personnel.

Besides broadening the definition of hijacking, the Anti-Hijacking Bill, 2015 also provides for an enhanced punishment to the perpetrators as well as the area of jurisdiction, official sources said.

“Following the amendments, the perpetrators of the act (hijacking) would now be punishable with death penalty where such an act result in the death of any person. It also provides for confiscation of movable and immovable properties of the offenders,” they said.

The definition of hijacking has been widened to include in its purview individuals acting in concert with hijackers.

The Anti-Hijacking Bill 2014, introduced in Rajya Sabha in December last, was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture.

The parliamentary panel submitted its report in March this year, wherein it had suggested various changes including making hoax calls a punishable offence and providing adequate compensation for victims of hijacking.

The committee had also asked the government to look at adequate definition of the terms ‘hostage’ and ‘security personnel’.

“The definition of hijacking has also been made broad- based, which is now in line with the Beijing Protocol. The scope of the period of hijacking is broadened from in-flight to in-service, besides including the conspirators,” sources said.

The Bill also provides for putting on trial the hijackers in case the offence is committed against or by an Indian citizen onboard anywhere irrespective the country, they said.

The Anti-Hiajcking Bill, 2014 was introduced in Rajya Sabha last December.

The Beijing Convention, 2010, is a treaty by which state parties agreed to criminalise certain terrorist actions against civil aviation.

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