Hijacking of an aircraft will attract capital punishment in the event of death of “any person”, as per the new anti-hijacking law notified by the Centre.
In other cases of hijacking, guilty will be punished with imprisonment for life and fine, besides confiscation of movable and immovable property held by him or her.
The new law mandates the Central government to confer powers of investigation, arrest and prosecution on any officer of the Central government or National Investigation Agency (NIA).
The Anti-Hijacking Act 2016 has received the assent of President Pranab Mukherjee on Friday and it has been notified, according to a notification issued on Monday.
A bill, to repeal 1982’s Anti-Hijacking Act, in this regard was introduced in Rajya Sabha by Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju on December 17, 2014.
It was referred to a Parliamentary panel in December that year which gave its report in March last year. The bill was passed on May 4, this year in the Upper House, and on May 9 in Lok Sabha.
In the old Act, 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 new law, the definition has been expanded to include death of “security personnel on board” or “ground support staff” as well.
The 2016 Anti-Hijacking Act, which has come into effect after its notification, includes several acts within the definition of hijacking including making a threat, attempts or abetment to commit the offence. Those organises or directs others to commit such offence will also be considered to have committed the offence of hijacking.
India has witnessed 19 hijacking incidents.
The new law has repealed the Anti-Hijacking Act, 1982 with few conditions.