THE ANTI-HIJACKING ACT, 1982

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The Anti-Hijacking Act was enacted on November 6, 1984 to implement the provisions of the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of Aircrafts which was signed on December 16, 1970. India acceded to the Treaty and made a statue to comply with international law and other matters related therewith. The application of the Act extends to the whole Indian Territory and the offences committed by a person abroad.

The Act defines ‘aircraft’ as an aircraft registered or unregistered in India but not including an aircraft of the military forces, customs authority or police force. Where any person or body of persons seizes or applies control over an aircraft by threat or compulsion or any other mode of terrorization unlawfully, such person or persons is said to have committed the offence of hijacking. The attempt or abetment to commit such force or intimidation shall also be an offence of hijacking within the meaning of the Act.

The aircraft is considered to be in flight at such time from the second when all the outer doors are locked subsequent to embarkation till the second the door is unlocked for disembarkation. Where the matter is forced landing, the flight shall considered to carry on till the expert authorities of the nation where the forced landing has happened, takes the initiative of the aircraft, travelers and the properties on board. The offence of hijacking shall be penalized with imprisonment and fine. Moreover, if a person as a part of hijacking commits any act of hostility or violence against the travelers or member of the team of that aircraft, such person shall be punished as if he had committed a crime in India and for the purpose of punishment the law in force in India will be considered. Where such an offence is committed abroad, the offender shall be punished according to Indian law at the time he is found in India. The Court shall try a case in India committed abroad only if such aircraft is registered within India, where such aircraft is leased to the lessee such person shall be permanent resident in India or the offender is an Indian citizen and such offence has been committed when the aircraft lands in Indian Territory.

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The Anti-Hijacking (Amendment) Act, 1994 inserted a new provision which states that without giving generality to the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code of 1973, the Central government is empowered to grant power to an officer of such Government to arrest, inspect and prosecute as that of a police officer. In this regard, the police officers and the Government officials are insisted to assist the officer appointed by the Government under the Act.

The Sessions Court is conferred jurisdiction to try offence of hijacking in an aircraft as the Designated Court by the High Court in consultation with the Chief Justice of High Court. But where an offender or person suspected to have committed the offence of hijacking is presented before a Magistrate, the Magistrate shall detain that person for the period specified under the Act. The magistrate shall also forward such person to the Designated Court and the Court shall try the offender in the same manner as the power of the magistrate. In performing the prosecution of the offender, the Designated Court shall apply the procedures provided under the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973. The offence provided under the Act are extraditable and shall be brought under the purview of International Conventions relating to extradition to which India is signatory.

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The Anti-Hijacking Act, 1982 was amended in 1994 by enacting the Anti-Hijacking (Amendment) Act which inserted provisions dealing with the conditions of bail and certain presumptions that where any arms or explosives have been recovered from the accused or he has used any threat or violence, such person is presumed to have committed the offence. Moreover, a bill has been introduced in Rajya Sabha to further amend the Anti Hijacking Act which intends to include death sentence for the commission of the offence of hijacking.