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Drone Hijacking: The Modern-Day Mayhem

A drone [1]or UAV[2] is an unmanned aerial vehicle used as a recreational sport, cargo delivery, military vehicle, surveillance, and for photography[3]. During this period of the great global pandemic, drones have been helpful in the delivery of essentials, medical drone delivery, disinfection, body temperature scanning, and surveillance. Drones, in general, have a lot of pros to it, for example, military drones are more like bomber flights after the Venice Hot Air Balloon incident,1849[4] but even if destroyed it wouldn’t result in any loss of life, surveillance during suspicious activity, and post-disaster rescue. In India, surveillance of drones come under the jurisdiction of DRDA[5] for military drones and MCA[6] for civilian drones. Drones now form a market of $100 billion globally in 2020 [7]of which $70 billion for military drones and $17 billion for civilian drones with a growth of 40% pa.


India had banned drones in 2014 after a pizzeria in Mumbai tried to airdrop pizzas using drones[8]. However, after the lift of the ban, there have been numerous incidents of industrial espionage, terrorist activities[9], cyber-attacks[10], trespass, drug cartel activities [11], and invasion of privacy[12]. During the post-attack analysis of the Galwan attack, the Chinese army is said to have used UAV to analyze the positioning of Indian troops[13]. Also, during the COVID lockdown, numerous drones that were used for surveillance were hacked and misused. There have been numerous reports of privacy violations, stalking, and trespassing.


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With time drones were made available as toys and for recreational purposes. However, the ban was lifted in 2018 owing to its impracticality. CAR or the Civil Aviation requirements were laid down by the Ministry of Civil Aviation on August 27, 2018. These requirements were meant to be met compulsorily from December 1, 2018[14]. The drones are now classified into 5 types according to their weight and a particular height of flight was assigned for each category and must be complaint with the NPNT Also, the “No Permission – No Take Off” was implemented according to which permission has to be obtained from the Digital sky before every take off[15]. Although the policy requires operators to obey regulatory controls, it does not specify an automated system to ensure safe and secure activity at low elevations. Nor does the policy offer a way to track how drones capture, use, store and exchange data. In general, the approach tends to be short-sighted. It does not account for the rapid developments in artificial intelligence that could lead to unforeseen drone applications. Furthermore, there is no solution to the dispute between competing drone operations. Unless the operating framework, security and privacy are made clearer, the policy will remain weak in terms of adaptability. [16]Though these rules were compilable, many of them were impractical and the drone activity was reduced to a bare minimum of police surveillance and education.

The Unmanned Aircraft System Rules,2020

Due to the increased drone usage during the COVID the Government of India released a new set of rules i.e. the draft Unmanned Aircraft System Rules,2020. These rules included Drone Regulation 1.0, Drone Regulation 2.0 and National Anti-Drone Guidelines.[17] India’s current drone strategy can benefit from tighter surveillance laws. In the United States, a number of states have placed limits on drone surveillance, requiring some form of police warrant to operate drones. Rhode Island has proposed detailed legislation prohibiting the use of drones for facial recognition or for the capture of any images. Such interventions, as well as a more robust framework for the approval of applications, the renewal of licences, the alerting of the agencies concerned to deal with emergencies and the recording of the vehicle’s history, will improve the implementation of the regulation. This will enable India to effectively use drones not only for aerial mapping, but also for disaster management , traffic control, police, defence, environmental studies and agriculture.

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[1] Layman term for UAV

[2] Unmanned aerial vehicle

[3] Howell, Elizabeth. “What Is A Drone?”. Space.Com, 2018, Accessed 31 Aug 2020.

[4] Bombing?, History’s. “History’s First Aerial Bombing?”. Roadstothegreatwar-Ww1.Blogspot.Com, 2014, Accessed 31 Aug 2020

[5] Defense Research and Development authority

[6] Ministry of Civil Aviation

[7] “Drones: Reporting For Work”. Goldman Sachs, 2020, Accessed     31 Sept 2020.

[8]“Mumbai Restaurant Uses Drone To Deliver Pizza”. NDTV.Com, 2020,,a%20purpose%20in%20the%20country. Accessed 1 Sept 2020.

[9] “Two Major Saudi Oil Installations Hit By Drone Strike, And U.S. Blames Iran”. Nytimes.Com, 2020, Accessed 1 Sept 2020.

[10] Anon, Ccdcoe.Org, 2020, Accessed 12 Sept 2020

[11] “Misuse Of Drones Has Punjab Security Agencies On Toes”. Tribuneindia News Service, 2020, Accessed 1 Sept 2020.

[12] R, Supriya. “Drone Misuse In India: What Enterprises Must Never Do With Uavs”. DATAQUEST, 2018, Accessed 12 Sept 2020.

[13] Eyes In The Sky – India, China Deploy Drones At Galwan, and 2020 Indian Defence News Eyes In The Sky – India. “Eyes In The Sky – India, China Deploy Drones At Galwan”. Indiandefensenews.In, 2020, Accessed 1 Sept 2020.

[14] DGCA, Dgca.Gov.In, 2020, Accessed 2 Sept 2020.

[15] DGCA “View PDF”. Dgca.Gov.In, 2020, Accessed 2 Sept 2020.

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[16] Yadav, Mukesh, and Mukesh Yadav. “India’S New Drone Policy Is Shortsighted. Here’S Why”. Scroll.In, 2019, Accessed 2 Sept 2020.

[17]Civilaviation.Gov.In, 2020, Accessed 2 Sept 2020.

Cite this article (The Bluebook 20th ed.)-

Janaki Devi Baskar, Drone Hijacking: The Modern-Day Mayhem, Ex Gratia Law Journal, (September 17, 2020),

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Janaki Devi Baskar
Student - Tamil Nadu National Law University