A hoax call about a bomb threat may soon lead to life imprisonment as the authorities consider invoking the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against Safety of Civil Aviation Act.
Airports across India, including Delhi, receive threat calls almost every day and passengers often miss their connecting flights and lose their baggage in the chaos caused by flight delays.
The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) is considering invoking the stricter law to deter hoaxes.
“Usually, the police register a case under the Indian Penal Code and the caller gets bail easily and if convicted the punishment is not more than two-three years. But under this act, the punishment can be extended up to life imprisonment and we will be writing to the state police to register cases under this act if a passenger puts airport security at risk,” said a BCAS official.
In the last month, the Capital received eight to 10 hoax calls. Sagar Malviya’s flight to the US via Istanbul was delayed because of a security alert in January. The passenger from Mumbai is yet to find his luggage.
Malviya, who missed his connecting flight because of the delay, reportedly didn’t get any help from Turkish Airlines once in Istanbul. Malviya returned to Mumbai, but he is still trying to locate his baggage.
“I was travelling on January 2. After we had boarded the plane, the airline staff informed us that there would be a delay in takeoff because of a security alert. We were made to sit in the plane for five hours as the staff had noticed an unclaimed mobile phone,” said Malviya, who returned two weeks later.
“Turkish Airlines staff did not offer any help to my query of missing my connecting flight from Istanbul, which I eventually did. They refused to take responsibility for my baggage. I had to stay there and buy clothes as the airline missed my baggage,” he said.
Turkish Airlines, however, said they handed over the baggage to the other airline.