Hijacking of an aircraft will now attract capital punishment in the event of death of “any person” as Parliament today passed a bill to widen the ambit of the law in dealing with this crime.
The Anti-Hijacking Bill, 2014, was approved by the Lok Sabha by voice vote. It was passed by the Rajya Sabha earlier. 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.
In the amended law, the definition has been expanded to include death of ground staff as well.
Following the amendments, the perpetrators of hijacking would now be punishable with death penalty where such an act result in the death of “any person”.
Besides broadening the definition of hijacking, it also provides for an enhanced punishment to the perpetrators as well as the area of jurisdiction.
Piloting the bill, Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said government was trying to deal with the problem of security of airports through a mix of technology and manpower.
Dismissing suggestions that there should be no death penalty in case of hijacking, he noted that the country had witnessed 19 hijacking incidents and one has to be practical while prescribing penalties as the lives of innocent people are involved.
Admitting that there was undue delay in enactment of anti-hijacking legislation, Raju said it was a reflection on the functioning of members.
The government, the Minister added, has developed a contingency plan to deal with hijacking.
Participating in the debate, senior Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, said the bill was first brought by the UPA regime in 2010.