Bangladesh has approved the draft of Civil Aviation Act 2017 incorporating the provision of death penalty for “willingly or recklessly” disrupting flights. The draft law also proposes life in prison and a fine of up to Tk 5 crore, or both imprisonment and fine together for those found guilty of such crime.
The weekly cabinet meeting with Prime Minister Sjheikh Hasina in the chair approved the draft on Monday.
After the meeting, Cabinet Secretary Mohammad Shafiul Alam told the press briefing that anyone violating the air navigation order, or found guilty of forging certificate or licence, will face up to five years in prison, a Tk1 crore fine or both.
He said interfering with aircraft navigation in any way, such as by tampering with lights or signals, would be treated as a “dangerous offence.”
About the provision of death penalty, Shafiul explained it was prepared in accordance with the guidelines of the International Civil Aviation Organisation.
“The government wants to follow the international standards of civil aviation,” he added.
However, sources said the draft act initially did not include the provision of death penalty.
The original draft was formulated and submitted before the Cabinet in 2016, getting approved on February 29.
Then it was sent to the Ministry of Law for vetting before being placed in parliament.
But before it could be sent to parliament, two incidents concerning Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina happened last year.
In November, a Biman Bangladesh Airlines flight carrying the prime minister was forced to make an emergency landing in Turkmenistan due to a technical glitch.
The aircraft had gone through all pre-flight checks and two test runs before taking off with the prime minister for Budapest.
Earlier in June, another Biman flight carrying the prime minister was stranded in air for around an hour because of delay in landing clearance at Dhaka airport.
Because of these incidents, the authorities concerned amended the draft and included the provision of death penalty, sources said.
Apart from these, anyone attempting to transport goods that pose a “security threat” will face up to seven years in jail or a Tk50 lakh fine.
“Illegal entry to Bangladeshi airspace is punishable with a jail term between three and seven years and a maximum Tk50 lakh fine,” the cabinet secretary added.
When asked if the Biman officials involved in the prime minister’s flight glitch in November would be tried under the proposed act, Shafiul replied in the negative.
“It is only a draft. It will become a law after parliament approves it. Only then will the law come into force,” he said.