Anti-Hijacking Act, 2016
The Anti-hijacking Act, 2016 is an Act of the Parliament that replaced The Anti-Hijacking Act, 1982 that was earlier in place. The new Anti-Hijacking Act, 2016 was passed by the Lok Sabha on May 9 and gave effect to The Hague Convention of 1971 and the Beijing Protocol of 2010.
This act was introduced to improve the laws in this regard that were not covered by the Anti-Hijacking Act, 1982. The earlier act was old and was not comprehensive enough to deal with modern-day hijacking techniques. The Anti-Hijacking Act, 2016 broadened the definition of hijacking to include any attempt to seize or gain control of an aircraft using "any technological means", which accounts for the possibility that the hijackers may not be physically present on board the aircraft.
In October 2017, the first conviction was drawn under this act.
- 1 Background
- 2 Legislative history
- 3 Features of The Anti-Hijacking Act, 2016
- 4 Provisions of The Anti-Hijacking Act, 2016
- 5 Shortcomings
- 6 First Conviction Under the Act
- 7 External links
The main reason for the enactment of The Anti-Hijacking Act, 2016 was that the Narendra Modi administration believed that The Anti-Hijacking Act, 1982 was not comprehensive enough to deal with modern-day hijack techniques, did not penalize individuals who made false hijack threats, and had weak penalties that did not serve as sufficient deterrent to potential hijackers.
The Anti-Hijacking Act, 1982 did not have sufficient or no measures for punishments in regards to various forms of hijacking. Under the old act, an aircraft “in service” had a narrow definition that definite it as between the time the doors shut and the time every passenger had disembarked.
The government considered The Anti-Hijacking Act, 1982 obsolete in the face of emerging threats. A new Act in the form of a rework of the earlier one was required.
On 17 December 2014, The Anti-Hijacking Bill, 2014 (Bill No. LIII of 2014) was introduced into the Rajya Sabha by the Minister of Civil Aviation, Ashok Gajapathi Raju. on 29 December, the bill was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture who submitted their report on 11 March 2015.
The bill was then passed by the Rajya Sabha on 4 May 2016 and by the Lok Sabha on 9 May 2016. On 13 May 2016, the bill revived assent from then-President Pranab Mukherjee and was notified in The Gazette of India on 16 May 2016. The Anti-Hijacking Act, 2016 came into force on 5 July 2017.
Features of The Anti-Hijacking Act, 2016
The Anti-Hijacking Act, 2016 aims to enforce the Hague Hijacking Convention and the 2010 Beijing Protocol Supplementary to the Convention.
The Hague Hijacking Convention (Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft)
The Hague Hijacking convention is a multilateral treaty through which state parties agree to prohibit and punish aircraft hijacking. The convention aims at addressing the situations in which an aircraft takes off or lands in a place different from its country of registration.
The main focus of the convention lies on the principle of aut dedere aut judicare which is Latin for "either extradite or prosecute". In a basic sense, the principle means the legal obligation of states under public international law to prosecute persons who commit serious international crimes where no other state has requested extradition.
As per The Hague Hijacking Convention, the principle entails the legal obligations of a state that is a party to the Convention must prosecute an aircraft hijacker if no other state requests his or her extradition for prosecution. The convention came into force on 14 October 1971 and as of 2013 has 185 state parties.
The Beijing Protocol of 2010 (Convention on the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Relating to International Civil Aviation)
The Beijing Protocol of 2010 is a treaty through which states agree to criminalize certain terrorist actions against civil aviation. The protocol was conducted at the Diplomatic Conference on Aviation Security in Beijing, the same conference where the Protocol Supplementary to the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft was adopted.
The protocol intends to modernize the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Civil Aviation, 1971, and supersede its provisions. It came into effect on 1 January 2018 and as of September 2018, the protocol has been signed by 35 states and ratified or acceded to by 26.
Provisions of The Anti-Hijacking Act, 2016
The main aim of the act lies not only in punishing those who commit the actual act of hijacking but also false threats that may appear genuine. Hoax calls that cause the landing of an aircraft at a place other than intended accounts as hijacking and attracts punishment similar to that of actual hijacking. The Act takes into account that armed possession of an aircraft may not be necessary for hijacking and that it can be hijacked remotely by means of a technological threat.
It is stated under Section 3(1) of the Anti-Hijacking Act, 2016 that those who unlawfully and intentionally seizes or exercises control of an aircraft in service by force or threat thereof, or by coercion, or by any other form of intimidation, or by any technological means, commits the offence of hijacking. It also states that the act of making a threat of committing the offence of hijacking by any such person deems that the threat is credible and punishable.
The act of being an accomplice, conspiring with one or more persons to commit the offence and/or assisting any persons involved in the hijacking is punishable as hijacking.
As per the act, hijacking is punishable with life imprisonment but it also added the clause that if the hijacking results in the death of any person on the airplane such as the passengers and the crewmates then the hijacker is punishable with death. All crimes committed leading to and during the hijacking are brought up against the hijacker.
If the hijacker is Indian, or if the hijacked aircraft is registered in India or if any foreign registered aircraft lands in India with the alleged offender still on board, or when the aircraft is hijacked anywhere in the world and an Indian citizen is on board, the act provides universal jurisdiction. The act also provides fine and compensation of moveable and immoveable property.
The Anti-Hijacking Act, 1982 was last amended in 1994 and the 2016 act brought about great changes and improved upon the situation but it still has its flaws.
The act does not include aircrafts that are used in customs or police service under the meaning of the term “aircraft”. There are several definitions that have not been provided under the act such as the term “hostage” and “security personnel”. The act also does not state or provides any measures of security to the ground staff and security personnel at the airport.
First Conviction Under the Act
In October of 2017, the first conviction under the act took place in Ahmedabad. Birju Kishor Salla had left a printed note claiming there were 12 hijackers aboard a Jet Airways Mumbai to Delhi flight and forcing it to land in Ahmedabad. This act was considered as hijack as per The Anti-Hijacking Act, 2016 even though all he did was leave a note with fake information. The intent of the note was merely to ensure that his girlfriend, a Jet employee in Delhi, moved to Mumbai after this scare. Although Salla did not have any intention of harming anyone, he was sentenced to life imprisonment and fined Rs. 5 Crore for creating a hijack scare.
- Rajagopal, Krishnadas (16 February 2018). "Dealing with hijacking". The Hindu.
- "The Anti-Hijacking Act, 2016: An Explainer – The Wire". The Wire.
- "The Anti-Hijacking Bill, 2014". www.prsindia.org.
- The Gazette of India. "The Anti-Hijacking Act, 2016" (PDF). Ministry of Civil Aviation.
- "Anti-hijack law comes into effect". The Hindu. 7 July 2017.
- "India's tough anti-hijacking law comes into force". The Indian Express. 6 July 2017.
- “Explained: Hijacking Act; why a hoax led to a life term”. The Indian Express.13 June 2019.
- “Businessman gets life imprisonment, Rs 5 crore fine for hijack hoax on Jet flight in 2017”. The Indian Express. October 2017.