Panel moots death penalty for hijackers

A parliamentary committee said it must be applicable to those whose actions result in deaths.

New Delhi: Supporting death penalty for
hijackers, a parliamentary committee has said it must be
applicable to those offenders whose actions result in death of
hostages or security personnel.

But it has also raised questions as to whether
opportunities for any negotiation or settlement to save lives
would be foreclosed if the hijackers knew they would get
capital punishment for the offence.

The Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture,
headed by CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury, today presented its
report on the Anti-Hijacking (Amendment) Bill 2010, to Rajya
Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari and Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar.

The committee felt the proposed amendment to include death
penalty in 1982 Anti-Hijacking Act was "the need of the hour
and unavoidable in the heightened threat of such a daring

It endorsed the proposed amendment that provides for
capital punishment to the hijackers as well as "to the
conspirators and abettors also who commit any of the acts"
referred to in the prevailing law.

It, however, noted that it was not clear in the proposed
amendment whether death penalty would be applicable to the
hijackers who kill hostages or security men or to all
hijackers who have caused or not caused any fatalities.

"The Committee is of the opinion that if death penalty
was a foregone conclusion for the offence of hijacking, the
opportunities for any negotiation or settlement to save lives
of passengers may be foreclosed," the report said.

"What about the safety of passengers and crew when the
hijackers are sure that they will get death penalty for their
offence? Whether the death penalty would really be deterrence
to those hijackers who do it as suicide mission," it said.

Expressing reservations over the definition of hijack or
seizure of an aircraft "in flight", the Committee observed
that it does not include cases of "forced entry into aircraft
and its take-over when the aircraft is on the taxiway at the
airport with or without passengers or when pre-flight checking
of the aircraft is in progress."

It recommended that "the definition of hijacking needs to
be widened to include such situations also."

Observing that grant of compensation was time-consuming
involving lot of litigation and procedures, it recommended
that with a stand-alone law on hijacking, it would be
appropriate to include "all aspects related or incidental
to the act of hijacking in this legislation itself".

It asked Civil Aviation Ministry to consider including
necessary provisions for compensation in the Act.

Noting that there have been increased instances of
hijacking of buses, trains and cars in the recent past, the
panel asked the government to consider having a law to deal
with such cases and provide punishment to offenders.