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Bill to amend Aircraft Act introduced; proposes fine of up to Rs 1 crore

A few other provisions would also be made part of the law that will also help in complying with the International Civil Aviation Organization's (ICAO) requirements

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

File photo | An aircraft approaches the international airport in Frankfurt, Germany. Photo: PTI

The government on Tuesday introduced a bill in the Lok Sabha to amend the Aircraft Act wherein the fine amount for violations will be hiked from Rs 10 lakh to up to Rs 1 crore.

A few other provisions would also be made part of the law that will also help in complying with the International Civil Aviation Organization's (ICAO) requirements.

The Aircraft (Amendment) Bill, 2020 also provides for keeping "aircraft belonging to any armed forces of the Union, other than naval, from military or air force outside the purview" of the Aircraft Act, 1934.

Once the amendments are passed, the government would have the power to issue directions to review, if necessary in public interest, any order passed by Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) and Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB), as per the bill's Statement of Objects and Reasons.

A key proposal is to increase the fine amount from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 1 crore for violations.

Other proposals include empowering BCAS or any authorised officer to issue directions, having designated officers for adjudging penalties and introducing a provision for compounding of offences.

Generally, compoundable offences are those which can be settled by paying certain amount of money.

Further, the bill seeks to empower the central government to constitute DGCA, BCAS and AAIB under the Act as well as specify their responsibilities.

It would also bring regulations of all areas of air navigation services under the Act.

The Act has provisions for securing the safety of aircraft operations in India and carrying out civil aviation operations as per standards, procedures and practices laid down by ICAO.

As per the statement, ICAO audits, conducted in 2012 and 2015, have indicated a need to amend the Act to give proper recognition to the regulators under the Act.

Among others, the audits had suggested enhancing the "maximum quantum of fines and to empower the departmental officers to impose financial penalties on individuals or organisations involved in violations of the legal provisions".

The bill was introduced by Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Arjun Ram Meghwal as Minister of State for Civil Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri was not present in the House.

In December, the Union Cabinet cleared the amendments to the Act.

The amendments would fulfil the requirements of ICAO, it had said in a release.

This would enable the three regulatory bodies in the in India, namely DGCA, BCAS and AAIB to become more effective, which would lead to enhancement in the level of safety and security of aircraft operations in the country, the release had said.

Indian has a high growth potential and at present, scheduled domestic carriers together have nearly 680 planes.

The Economic Survey, tabled in Parliament on January 31, said that to continue with the high growth trajectory, the government has been providing a congenial environment so that the Indian carriers double their fleet from about 680 aircraft at the close of November 2019 to over 1,200 by FY 2023-24.

First Published: Tue, February 04 2020. 17:28 IST