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'Will death penalty for hijackers save lives?'

Last updated on: March 3, 2011 09:19 IST

'Will death penalty for hijackers save lives?'

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A Correspondent
A parliamentary standing committee has recommended that death penalty should be slapped on hijackers only if they kill any hostage or security men and not on anybody declared a hijacker.

In its report tabled in both Houses of Parliament on Tuesday, the committee warned that capital punishment to all hijackers is a tricky business and may prevent any negotiations to save lives of passengers.

"If the death penalty was a forgone conclusion for the offence of hijacking, opportunities for any negotiation or settlement to save lives of the passengers may be foreclosed," it argued while endorsing the proposed amendment in the Anti-Hijacking Act, 1982 to provide for the capital punishment not only to hijackers but also conspirators and abettors so that all involved directly or indirectly get the same punishment as the hijackers.

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'What about the safety of passengers and crew?'

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

It also recommended another amendment in the act to provide for compensation to the victims. It did not agree with the Civil Aviation Ministry's view that the compensation is to be separately dealt with as in case of other victims of illegal acts.

Pointing out that compensation under civil law is time-taking as it involves a lot of litigation and procedures, the committee said: "When we have a standalone legislation for hijacking, it should be appropriate to include all the aspects related or incidental to the act of hijacking in this legislation itself. The compensation, no doubt, should be an integral part of it."



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Definition of hijacking

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It also recommended another similar legislation to deal with those hijacking buses, cars, trains, etc for ransom or for any other objectives for the harshest punishment to the offenders and compensation to the victims.

The committee noted that taking control forcibly of such modes of transport is not covered under any specific law, except the criminal laws while compensation to the victims of such hijacking is not provided in any law.

It also expressed reservation on definition of the hijacking limited to the aircraft movement from door closure to door opening and wanted it expanded to also cover situations like forced entry into aircraft and its takeover when it is on the taxiway at the airport with or without passengers or when pre-flight checking of the aircraft is in progress.



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