NEW DELHI: The UPA government on Friday made the anti-hijacking law much tougher by including death sentence as a punishment.
The Cabinet was expected to consider the proposal moved by civil aviation ministry to amend Anti-Hijacking Act of 1982 to make it more stringent to deter hijackers from using an aircraft as a missile.
With enhanced terror threats, a group of ministers headed by home minister P Chidambaram had cleared the “tougher” proposals paving the way for civil aviation ministry to move the amendments for Cabinet approval.
The Cabinet’s approval paves the way for amending section 4 of the 1982 Act, which provides for life imprisonment and a fine for hijacking, to include death penalty also.
The government is likely to place the proposed amendments before Parliament in the budget session itself once the House meets again after the recess.
The GoM had also decided to incorporate a new clause to cover the aspect of conspiracy to hijack an aircraft which does not exist in the 1982 Act.
The fresh move to ensure legal sanction to anti-hijacking policy comes almost five year after the Cabinet Committee on Security had cleared it in August, 2005. The policy allows shooting down of a “hostile plane if there is conclusive evidence that it is likely to be used as a missile to blow up strategic establishments”.
The policy recognises that hijacked aircraft can be transformed into a “hostile” entity. It also prescribes surrounding of hijacked planes by fighter aircrafts in Indian airspace.
The law will authorise Indian Air Force to take quick steps for scrambling fighters to guard and guide hijacked aircraft and force land it in an Indian airport.
To avoid Kandahar-like situations, the policy also provides that no negotiations whatsoever would be held with hijackers. The policy talks about immobilisation of an aircraft and not allowing it to take off if the hijacking takes place on Indian soil, besides scrambling of IAF fighters if the hijacked plane remains in Indian airspace.