Govt amends hijacking law; OKs death penalty
The new anti-hijacking law would arm the govt with powers to shoot down a hijacked aircraft.
New Delhi: The Cabinet on Friday decided to award death penalty to hijackers of aircraft or those who use them as missiles.
The decision was taken at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
The new measures will be included in the Anti-Hijacking Act of 1982 in an attempt to deter hijackers.
A group of ministers (GoM) headed by Home Minister P Chidambaram earlier approved a legislation by amending the Act as proposed by the Civil Aviation Ministry to include death sentence and life imprisonment to check hijacking.
"As there is talk of abolishing death sentence worldwide, the government constituted a GoM to discuss this issue. The proposal has been approved by the Cabinet," Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni said at a news conference after the Cabinet meeting.
The government will now place the proposed amendments before Parliament when it meets after a recess next month.
The amended law allows the Indian Air Force to intercept an hijacked aircraft and force it to land it.
Under the amendments, a hostile plane can be shot down if there is evidence that it could be used as a missile to hit a vital installation.
The Cabinet decision follows a prolonged debate sparked off by the 1999 hijacking of an Indian Airlines aircraft to Kandahar in Afghanistan, forcing New Delhi to free three jailed militants.