Parliamentary panel for death penalty to hijackers

A parliamentary committee has said capital punishment must be awarded to conspirators.

Updated: Mar 01, 2011, 17:22 PM IST

New Delhi: Supporting death penalty for
hijackers, a parliamentary committee has said capital
punishment must be awarded to conspirators and abettors whose
actions result in death of hostages or security personnel.

At the same time, it raised questions as to whether
opportunities for any negotiation or settlement to save lives
would be foreclosed if the hijackers knew they would in any
case get capital punishment for the offence.

The report of the Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism
and Culture, headed by CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury, on the
Anti-Hijacking (Amendment) Bill 2010, was tabled in both
Houses of Parliament on Tuesday.

It felt that the amendment to include death penalty in the
1982 Anti-Hijacking Act was "the need of the hour and
unavoidable in the heightened threat of such a daring crime."

The proposed law comes more than a decade after the 1999
hijacking of the Indian Airlines flight IC-814 to Kandahar
that led to the killing of one passenger and release of four
dreaded terrorists.

While endorsing the proposed measure to provide capital
punishment to hijackers as well as to "conspirators and
abettors", the committee pointed out that it was not clear
whether death penalty would be applicable to hijackers who
kill hostages or securitymen or to all hijackers who have or
have not caused any fatality.

It pointed out that if death penalty was a "foregone
conclusion" for hijacking, "the opportunities for any
negotiation or settlement to save lives of passengers may be

"What about 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 a
deterrence to those hijackers who do it as suicide mission,"
it asked.

Expressing reservations over the definition of hijack or
seizure of an aircraft `in flight`, the Committee said it did
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 as
it involved a lot of litigation and procedures, it said a
stand-alone law on hijacking should include "all aspects
related or incidental to the act of hijacking in this
legislation itself."

It asked the government to consider necessary provisions
in the bill for granting of compensation to the victims.

Noting there were increased instances of hijacking of
trains, buses and cars, the panel asked the government to
consider having a law to deal with all such cases and provide
punishment to offenders.