This article is written by L M Lakshmi Priya of Sathyabama Institute of Science and Technology, Chennai, an intern under Legal Vidhiya
The act of illegally capturing an aircraft is known as hijacking. This crime became more common in the early 1970s and posed a serious threat to civilian populations. As a result, laws were passed to punish those who committed hijacking and to regulate society through the establishment of rules and regulations. The Anti-Hijacking Act of 1982 was introduced, which included three chapters and legal provisions. The Anti-Hijack was also amended and the new act of the Anti-Hijack was introduced on 2016 with exhaustive provisions to it.
Keywords: aircraft, hijacking, convention country, punishment and jurisdiction for hijacking, extradition.
Hijacking is a crime that appears to be a barter system, but in reality, it is a serious offense where criminals use the act of hijacking to create anxiety with the government and demand things that are always against the peace and security of the government. The act helps the criminals demand what they need from the government by capturing passengers, and in order to release the passengers who have been captured, the authorities are supposed to fulfill the demand of the criminals. Due to the rising number of hijacking occurrences and the risk to aircraft safety, several conventions and laws were created in order to compensate for this disadvantage and penalize the hijackers. One such law is the Anti-Hijacking Act of 1982.
The Associate in Nursing Act, also known as the Anti-Hijacking Act of 1982, was passed by the Indian parliament to prohibit the unauthorized seizure of aircraft registered in the country. It outlines the offenses related to hijacking and provides that those who commit such an act are subject to imprisonment as well as a fine. The Hague Convention on Hijacking is a multilateral agreement that was drafted during a diplomatic conference held in the Hague in December 1970 to deal with aircraft hijacking more effectively. Member governments of this convention pledge to prohibit and penalize aircraft hijacking. India was required to ratify this agreement, which entails a legal duty under public international law to bring criminal charges against anyone who commits certain kinds of severe violations.
The definition of “hijack” at the time of its first usage in 1923 was “to steal by stopping a vehicle on the highway.” This phrase refers to the illegal seizure of a ship, aircraft, or land vehicle while it is in motion, along with the forced relocation of the vehicle against the crew’s preferences. It is without a doubt acknowledged by international law that both aircraft hijacking and ship hijacking constitute international crimes. The goal of the hijacking is for the criminals to demand a ransom or some sort of administrative or political compromise from the targeted government in exchange for holding passengers or the crew hostage.
Act No. 65/1982 was approved by the parliament in the 33rd year of the republic and went into effect on November 15, 1982. Following formal announcement in the gazette by the central government, this legislation became operative. The legislation is applicable to all of India as well as to any offense committed by anybody outside of India. The Act comprises of three chapters and eleven sections.
- Chapter 1 – Preliminary (Sections 1,2)
- Chapter 2 – Hijacking and connected offences (Sections 3- 6)
- Chapter 3 – Miscellaneous (Sections 7-11)
According to Section 3 of the act, an individual is considered to have committed a hijacking offense if they carry out any of the following actions:
By unlawfully seizing the aircraft,
By using force or threat or any other form of intimidating the aircraft,
By controlling the aircraft.
The person whoever commits the above said actions or whoever abets to do such actions are deemed to have committed such offence of hijacking.
Section 4 of the act stipulates that a person who violates any of the provisions outlined in Section 3 of the act faces a life sentence in prison and a fine.
According to section 5 of the said act the person whoever commits such offence that is the act of violence to any of the passengers in the aircraft, or to any crew members in the aircraft then such person will be held liable for the act of violence which he committed towards others and will be punished for such committed act of violence.
- According to section 6 of the act If an offence under section 4 or section 5 is committed outside of India, the offender may be dealt with in relation to the offence as if it had been done at any location within India where he may be found, subject to the provisions of sub-section (2).
- A court cannot recognise an offence punishable under section 4 or section 5 that was committed outside of India unless
- When such offences were committed on an aircraft that is registered in India.
- This crime is carried out aboard an aircraft that is temporarily rented without a crew to a lessee who resides permanently in India or uses the aircraft as his major place of business in the absence of such a location.
- The person suspected of committing the act is either an Indian citizen or a passenger on the aircraft when it lands or is discovered in India.
- According to Section 7 of the Act, the following Sections 4 and 5 offenses will be considered to have been included as extraditable offences and covered by all extradition treaties that India has concluded with Convention nations that are applicable to and enforceable against India as of the Act’s date of commencement.
- Any aircraft registered in a country party to a convention must at all times throughout the aircraft’s flight be assumed to be within the jurisdiction of that nation for the purposes of applying the Extradition Act, 1962 (34 of 1962) and the offences under this Act. whether it is currently under the authority of another nation or not.
Section 8 of the act states that the Hague Convention’s contracting parties and the extent to which they have used its provisions may be verified by the Central Government through a notice published in the Official Gazette. and any such notice will serve as proof conclusive of the information certified in it.
CERTAIN AIRCRAFT TO BE TREATED AS REGISTERED
Section 9 of the act states that if the Central Government determines that an aircraft satisfies the requirements of Article 5 of the Hague Convention, it may order, by publication in the Official Gazette, that the aircraft be treated for purposes of this Act as having its registration in the Convention country that may be indicated in the notification.
According to Section 10 of the Act, no prosecution for an offence under this Act may be started unless the Central Government has given its prior approval.
The following conditions should be satisfied according to Section 10A of the Act in order to prosecute an offence under Sections 4 and 5.
- If the weapons, ammunition, or explosives were found in the accused’s possession and there is cause to think that these or similar weapons, ammunition, or explosives were used in the commission of the offence; or
- Provided there is proof of any use of force, threat of force, or other methods of intimidation directed towards the passengers or crew in connection with the commission of said offence.
ACTION TAKEN IN GOOD FAITH
Section 11 of the Act states that any person who acts in good faith in pursuance of the provisions of this act shall not be liable for any suits or legal proceedings. The Central Government shall not be subject to any lawsuits or other legal actions for any harm done or anticipated to be caused by anything done in good faith in accordance with this Act’s provisions.
- The 1982 statute limited the extent of the hijacking offence to the hijacker’s physical presence within the aircraft.
- The 1982 Act stipulated that the offence would carry only mild penalties. When the aircraft doors are closed until every passenger has gotten off, it is regarded as being “in-service.”
ANTI-HIJACKING ACT 2016
The definition of hijacking has been expanded under the new 2016 Act to include any effort to take over or seize control of an aircraft using any “technological” methods. This is wide in that it means that even if hijackers were physically absent from the aircraft, they would still be charged for attempting to use technology that does not require their physical presence to hijack an aircraft. The new Act penalizes hijacking attempts and hoaxes with the death penalty and life in imprisonment. Furthermore, the new Anti-Hijacking Act would still be in effect if the hijacking occurred outside of India in an aircraft registered in India or leased to Indians, if the offender was in India, if they were stateless but lived there, or if the offence was committed against Indians.
BIRJU KISHORE KUMAR SALLA VS STATE OF GUJARAT
The Honourable Court found Mr. Salla guilty under the Anti-Hijacking Act, 2016 because he left a threatening note in the washroom of a Jet Airways aircraft for his own peculiar reasons. He believed that by doing so, Jet Airways would be shut down, and in addition, he believed that his girlfriend would return to him in Mumbai. As a result, he was found guilty and is currently serving a life sentence in prison. Even though he didn’t really want to harm anyone or hijack the aircraft, leaving a threat note qualified as an illegal act, thus he was imprisoned.
Flight 814 of Indian Airlines was hijacked on December 24, 1999, after takeoff from Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. During the next eight days, the aircraft was flown to different locations in the region, and it was discovered that the hijackers were members of a terrorist group based in Pakistan that was targeting Kashmir. The goal of the hijack was to secure the release of the group’s leaders and ideologues, who were being held captive in India. The crisis came to an end on December 31, 1999, when hostages were freed in return for three terrorists who were released from Indian custody.
The 2016 Act still has certain issues, despite being a significant improvement over the 1994 amendment to the prior legislation. For example, the definition of “aircraft” in Section 2(b) of the Act refers to any aircraft, even if it is not registered in India. Additionally, as customs and police aircraft are similarly vulnerable to hijacking, they should have ideally fallen under Section 2(b). However, these aircraft are not included in this exception. The Act also fails to provide punishments for the offender for making hoax calls.
The 1982 Act is more expansive than the 2016 Act, and even with harsh punishments, fines, and property seizures tacked on, infamous individuals will be discouraged from endangering the aviation sector. The Anti-Hijacking Act of 2016 closes most of the gaps. To prevent such risky behaviors, strict restrictions were to be enacted. The Indian government has taken a more strident stance against these inhumane incidents with the enactment of this statute. particularly associated with hijacking. Because it encouraged greater collaboration between humans and technology for the passengers’ safety and security There haven’t been any noteworthy hijacking incidents in the recent past, and the current provision has to be improved, even though it is broad. These modifications or additions may be made by judicial interpretations.
- Mukesh Kumar, Anti-Hijacking Act: An Overview, tutorials-point ( November 3, 2023, 9:00 PM), https://www.tutorialspoint.com/anti-hijacking-act-an-overview #:~:text=Accordingly%2C%20% E2%80%9CWhoever%20unlawfully%20and%20knowingly,commits%20the%20act%20of%20hijacking.%E2%80%9D
- Vandana Shrivastava, An overview of the Anti-Hijacking Act, 20166, ipleaders (November 3, 2023, 9:15 PM), https://blog.ipleaders.in/overview-anti-hijacking-act-2016/
- The Anti-Hijacking Act 1982, No. 65, Acts of Parliament, 1982 (India)
- Birju Kishore Kumar Salla vs State Of Gujarat, Gunjan Hariramani, Analysis: The Anti-Hijacking Act 2016, by journal, November 3, 2023, 8:50 PM, https://bnwjournal.com/2020/07/14/analysis-the-anti-hijacking-act-2016/
- Hijacking of Indian Airlines Flight 814 , Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs (November 3, 2023,9:00PM),https://cdm.syr.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Indian_Airlines_Hijacking_ExecSummary.pdf
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