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Anti-Hijacking Act, 2016

  • Category
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    25th Jun, 2019

NIA (National Investigation Agency) Special Court in Ahmedabad recently pronounced its judgment in the Jet Hijacking Case, making the accused Birju Kishor Salla the first convict under the recently passed, Anti-Hijacking Act of 2016.

Issue

Context:

NIA (National Investigation Agency) Special Court in Ahmedabad recently pronounced its judgment in the Jet Hijacking Case, making the accused Birju Kishor Salla the first convict under the recently passed, Anti-Hijacking Act of 2016.

About:

Anti-Hijacking Act, 2016

  • It received President’s assent on 13th May, 2016 and intends to give effect to the Convention for Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft and for related matters.
  • This act repeals the Anti-Hijacking act 1982 without affecting certain rights, privilege, obligations or any actions taken in pursuance of the said act or any legal proceedings and remedy, penalty, forfeiture and any such investigation, penalty, forfeiture or remedy may be imposed as if the said Act had not been repealed.

Why the new Anti-Hijacking Act of 2016?

  • The Anti-Hijacking Act, 1982, was last amended in 1994.
  • After the hijacking of Indian Airlines Flight IC-814 in December, 1999, it was felt necessary for providing the award of death penalty to perpetrators of the act of hijacking.
  • The incident of 9/11, where aircrafts were used as weapons, also created the need to further amend the existing Act.
  • This new act replaced the Anti-Hijacking Act, 1982, which the government considered obsolete in the face of emerging threats. The new Act aims to enforce The Hague Hijacking Convention and the 2010 Beijing Protocol Supplementary to the Convention.
  • The Hague Convention (Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft) sets out the principle of aut dedere aut judicare, a state that is party to the Convention must prosecute an aircraft hijacker if no other state requests his or her extradition for prosecution.
  • The 2010 Protocol Supplementary, which made amendments and additions, came into effect on January 1, 2018, and had 27 signatories as of September 2018.

Threat counts as hijack

  • The Act aims to punish not only an actual act of hijacking, but even a false threat that may appear genuine.
  • It practically means that a hoax call that forces an aircraft to land at a place different from the place intended would be treated as hijacking and attracts similar punishment.
  • The Act takes into account that armed possession of an aircraft may not be necessary for hijacking and that it may be hijacked remotely through a technological threat.
  • Under section 3(1): “Whoever 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 adds that “a person shall also be deemed to have committed the offence of hijacking” if such a person “makes a threat to commit such offence or unlawfully and intentionally causes any person to receive such threat under circumstances which indicate that the threat is credible”.
  • Hijacking attempts, directing others to commit hijacking, being an accomplice and assisting another person to evade investigation are punishable as hijacking. Whether or not actual hijacking has even been attempted, if a person has agreed with one or more persons to commit such an offence and any act in furtherance of the intention has taken place, it shall be deemed as hijacking.

Punishment

  • If hijacking leads to death of a passenger or a crew member, it is punishable with death. If not, the hijacking is punishable with life imprisonment.
  • The Act of 2016 also provides for fine and confiscation of movable and immovable assets. The hijacker would also be charged with any other offence that takes place during the hijacking.
  • It also provides for detention in custody for up to 30 days, and a bail application will not be entertained unless the public prosecutor is given a chance to oppose it. If opposed, the court would have to be reasonably satisfied that no offence of hijacking was committed.
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