The Tokyo Convention Act, 1975

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An Act no. 20 of the year 1975 was enacted with the short title as ‘The Tokyo Convention Act, 1975’ by the Parliament of India. The same was enacted with the object and purpose of giving effect to the ‘Convention on Offences and Certain Other Acts committed on board aircraft, 1963’. As the same Convention was signed at Tokyo, it also denoted as Tokyo Convention, at many occasions, as this resulted the naming of the present enactment as the Tokyo Convention Act. The Convention was signed on 14th September, 1963 and as the same was deemed expedient and necessary for India to accede the same, the present enactment was provided. The convention was brought into force on 4th day of December, 1969 and at present i.e. by the year 2015 there are 186 countries which has ratified to the Convention. The provisions of this Act is sought to extend to the whole of India.

The first Chapter of the Act discussed preliminary provisions regarding short titling, extension, etc. of the Act and also it provides under section 2 thereof for certain essential definition of the terms used under the various provisions of the Act, for better interpretation thereof.

Second Chapter of the Act makes more relevant provisions as to the main purpose of the Act, where in section 3 provides, that whenever there will be commission of any act or abstinence from doing required act on board aircraft being registered in India, when took place in India, then the same covered under India laws. For proceedings against such offence, the prior permission and consent from the Central Government is required. However, the same is not necessary, when the offence is covered under the Aircraft Act, 1934 (Act no.22 of 1934). However, again there will be no need of taking permission or consent as aforesaid, in relation to the arrest or warrant thereof, remanding in custody or on bail of concerned charged persons for such offence. Another important provision is related to the application of Extradition law in relation to the offences under this Act. Here, Section 4 of the Act says that in so far as such application of the provisions of the Extradition Act, 1962 (Act no. 34 of 1962) in relation to the offences committed on board an aircraft in flight, any aircraft being registered in the Convention country should be treated as the same is within the jurisdiction of that Country.

Further certain powers have been provided to the Commander of the aircraft in flight, under section 5 of the Act. Whenever it is observed by such Commander that there are reasonable grounds of persons having acted or has done anything while the aircraft is in flight, which will derogate the safety or the aircraft or persons, properties thereof, the good order or discipline, or otherwise acted to create situations which are explained under this provision, then such Commander can initiate reasonable measures which will be deemed necessary to protect the safety of such aircraft or persons, etc. thereof, etc. Even power to restraint such persons is also vested by this provision with such Commander. He can also avail assistance from the other members of crew, however, assistance from passengers can not be requested by such Commander. Further, such Commander can not also require such other members of Crew or even passengers in that aircraft as to restraining such persons to whom he can only restrain under this Act. Such other crew members and passenger therein, are specially, authorized under this Act in relation to take such reasonable preventive measures. And further the relevant procedure is also contemplated under the same section.

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Section 6 of the Act speaks for the jurisdiction of the Courts in India, where it is specified that the Courts having jurisdiction in relation to matters of piracy which is being committed on the High Seas are vested with the jurisdiction in relation to offences under this Act. Section 7 and 8 of the Act, further, makes provision in relation to evidence which will be in connection to such offence.

Further, chapter IV of the Act makes miscellaneous provisions under the Act, where section 9 says that the Central Government can notify the direction to apply any of such provisions under this Act in relation to any aircraft which is not registered in any Country, however, the operator or persons having ownership or beneficial interest therein, if are qualified to be as such in an aircraft registered in India and if are residing or having their principal place of business in India. Such notification is required to be published by the Central Government in its Official Gazette and application of provisions can also with directed by it, after having made required modifications.

Notably, the Central Government is required under section 10 of the Act to certify the contracting parties to the said Tokyo Convention and the extent of applicability of Convention upon them. Such certification to be notified by the Central Government in the Official Gazette and such notification will be the conclusive evidence of the matters therein certified. The Central Government is further, empowered under section 11 in relation to treat any aircraft as has been registered under the said Tokyo Convention Country concerned, if that Government satisfied to the effect that, the Aircraft concerned has satisfied the requirements of Article 18 of the said Tokyo Convention. The said fact of treating an aircraft registered in the concerned Convention Country is also required to notify in the Official Gazette by the Central Government.

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by Faim Khalilkhan Pathan.