DEALING WITH HIJACKING
Author: Krishnadas Rajagopal
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The hijacking of Indian Airlines flight IC-814 in 1999 and the 9/11 attacks in the U.S., in which aircraft were used as missiles, were wake-up calls for India to tighten the 1982 vintage anti-hijacking law. The need was also felt to make hijacking punishable with death penalty.
The Anti-Hijacking Act, 2016 repealed the 1982 Act. The important features of the act are as follows:
- In line with Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft and September 2010 Beijing Protocol Supplementary to the Convention.
- Expansion of the definition of hijacking to seizure or take-over of an aircraft using “any technological means” taking into consideration the possibility that a hijacker need not be physically present inside the aircraft to take control of it.
- Even a credible “threat” to hijack an aircraft amounts to hijacking. The definition of ‘hijacking’ also includes an attempt to commit the crime, directing, abetting, organising, participating in it as an accomplice, and unlawfully and intentionally assisting a person involved in hijacking to evade investigation or prosecution or punishment.
- The Act allows capital punishment if the hijacking leads to the death of a hostage, a security personnel, or any person not involved in the offence. The alternative is imprisonment for the remainder of that person’s natural life without any chance of remission.