The Suppression of Unlawful Acts against Safety of Civil Aviation Act, 1982

The Central Government’s legislation being the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against Safety of Civil Aviation Act, 1982 (Act no. 66 of 1982) was enacted by India parliament with the view to provide effect to the Convention which was for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against Safety of Civil Aviation. And also the same was provided with the intent to provide for certain other relevant matters therein. The said Convention was signed at Montreal on 23rd of September, 1971. The Act has received the assent of President of India on 6th day of November, 1982. The Act was extended to the entire Indian territories, similarly, certain provisions therein also extended to the offences which will be committed outside India territories. Moreover, the provisions of the Act were brought into operation on 15th day of November, 1982 by the Central Government by notifying the same in the Official Gazette.

The Act under its second Chapter provides for penal provisions, wherein section 3 describes the offences including commission of violence while being boarding the aircraft in the flight which is being danger to the safety of concerned aircraft, destruction of aircraft which is in service, damaging the same which will make such aircraft incapable of flight and such resulting to endanger safety thereof, placing a destroying devises or substances on such aircraft which will result in its incapable of flight or can cause damage thereof or even if it is such nature, will cause endanger to the safety thereof, and transferring or communicating false information which will also to endanger the safety of aircraft. All such acts are described as offence under this Act and the maximum punishment for committing such offence is life imprisonment and also fine. Even the Act requires to punish the attempters, abettors of such offence with the same punishment as they would have committed an offence as described above. Moreover, the new provision of section 3A, which was inserted in the Act by the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against Safety of Civil Aviation (Amendment) Act, 1994 (Act no. 40 of 1994), also prescribed certain offences which are in relation to airport. It is provided that if any person uses unlawfully any device, weapon, etc. with the intention to commit on any airport, act of violence to result in grievous hurt or death of any person, act of destruction or damaging seriously any aircraft or even any facility on such airport, etc. then such person is guilty under this provision and will be punished with same punishment maximum up to life imprisonment and fine, and the attempters and abetters thereof also liable to similar punishment as that of committers punished as aforesaid. Again section 4 of the Act makes destruction and damaging of air navigation facilities or interferences thereof to cause danger to the safety of the aircraft in flight. The maximum punishment for such acts is life imprisonment and also fine. And attempters and abetters thereof are also deemed the offender in the same manner as they themselves have committed the same offence and as such they are also liable to same punishments as aforesaid.

Section 5 and other subsequent provisions under the Act makes provisions as to cognizance, investigations, etc. If the offence under section 3 is committed outside Indian territories then the persons responsible thereof should be dealt with as they have committed the same offence in India at the place where he can be found. And the Courts will be entitled to take cognizance of such offence, if the same was committed on board an aircraft which is registered in India; on board an aircraft which is being leased, without crew, and the lessee thereof having his principal business place or his permanent residence in India; or if the offence being Indian citizen committed such offence on board the aircraft when the same lands in India or found in India. Further, the Amending Act of 1994 as afore named inserted subsequent sections wherein section 5A in the Act dealing with conferment of powers of arrest, investigation and prosecution on the officer of Central Government by notifying the same in the official Gazette by the Central Government irrespective of what provided under Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. However, assistance from police officials and officials of Government to such notified officers is required in such exercising of functions by such officers. With the concurrence of the Chief Justice of High Court concerned, the State Governments are empowered to specify that a Court of Session to be a Designated Court for the specified area which will be mentioned under the notification published on this behalf, under section 5B of the Act. Further, said designated courts are empowered to hold day to day based trials in relation such offences, irrespective of what has been provided under the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. Section 5C whereof makes list of triable offences by such Designated courts. However, such Designated Court will be applied with the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 while dealing with the proceedings before it. However, section 9 requires the prior sanction of the Central Government before prosecuting an offence under this Act.

The offences under this Act are treated as extraditable offences as per section 6 of the Act. Certain limitation is provided while granting bail bond to the offender under this Act, as per section 6A which is inserted by the aforesaid Amending Act of 1994. Moreover, certain aircrafts are to be treated as registered aircraft by the Central Government, as per section 8 of the Act.

Certain presumptions have been provided while prosecuting the offences under this Act. Section 9A which was inserted by the aforesaid amending Act of 1994, provides that if the fact that the arms, ammunition, etc. were recovered from possession of offender without any reason to the contrary is proved or if there is an evidence as to commission of violence by such offender, then the Designated Court should presume, that the same offender has committed such offence. Lastly, the provisions of section 10 provides for protection to the persons and the Central Government in respect to their actions or damage taken or caused under good faith or if they were intended under this Act, then no legal actions either civil or criminal can be taken against them.

by Faim Khalilkhan Pathan.