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Drone law

 Drone law 

Written by - Dibyaprakash panigrahi

Today drones became a household name as with the lockdown it became a feasible instrument for contactless delivery of commercial items or it may be a toy for recreational purposes amidst peoples who have a keen eye for tech. Today there is a great demand for drones and along with it various legal challenges.Drone basically is an unmanned aircraft or a remotely piloted aircraft which Provide a wider range of applications i.e. from photography to agriculture. In India according to the ministry of civil Aviation flying drones is completely legal provided that it must comply all the regulations and rules concerned.  

The Director General of civil Aviation from time to time amends or revises the Civil Aviation Regulations (CAR) regarding the use licensing and the registration of drones. according to the ministry there are five different category of drones :-

Nano : Less than or equal to 250 grams

Micro : From 250 grams to 2kg

Small : From 2kg to 25kg

Medium : From 25kg to 150kg

Large : Greater than 150kg 

UAOP is a permit required by the owners of the drones to fly them. It can be obtained from the Director General of Civil Aviation. However, in the following cases this permit isn't required.

• Nano drones operating below 50 feet in uncontrolled airspace.

• Micro drones operating below 200 feet in uncontrolled airspace - but will need to inform local police 24 hours prior.

• Drones owned and operated by National Technical Research Organization (NTRO), Aviation Research Centre and Central Intelligence Agencies but only after intimating local police.

The UAOP will have to be issued by DGCA within seven working days of submission of the necessary documents. These UAOPs are not transferrable and shall be applicable for not more than five years.

The first notification on drones was given in Public Notice issued by the Office of the Director-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), India’s civil aviation regulator, on 7th October 2014. As the discourse on drones developed, the guidelines and protocols became more sophisticated. Only Mini and Macro drones were allowed to be flown with visual line of sight (VLOS), based on the 2016 guidelines released.

2017 regulations stipulated that “all UAVs, irrespective of weight category are to be flown maintaining Visual Line of Sight (VLOS)”. 2017 guidelines have gaps when it comes to issues like legal liability, import controls and no provisions to ensure no interference by two drones in the other’s independent operations. All drones must have a Unique Identification Number (UIN) for their UAV and security clearance from the Ministry of Home Affairs before being operational. When it comes to legal liability – The Draft 2018 DGCA Guidelines assigns the legal responsibility of UAV to their respective operators. 

In June, the Ministry of Civil Aviation published the draft Unmanned Aircraft System Rules, 2020 that deal with severalaspects of flying drones in India. 


• drones will only be allowed to fly during the day time and within the "visual line of sight".

• The regulation defines areas around airports, near international border, State Secretariat Complex in state capitals, strategic locations and vital military installations as no drone zones. Drones can also not fly near "permanent or temporary Prohibited, Restricted and Danger Areas" and eco-sensitive zones.

• Lastly, as per the regulation, drones cannot be operated from a moving vehicle or aircraft.


Indian UAV market is projected to grow at a CGAR of 20.9%during 2020-2026.The projections seems promising as this is an indicator of a large scale commercialization of drones as in the present India's 30% drone usage is for commercial purposes and the rest is for military purposes. The Ministry Of Civil Aviation opened GARUD portal for the permits and registering of drones for official work . All the factors are in favor of harnessing the potential of technology . 

In all these developments the primary concern is privacy although there are restrictions in place and demarcation of zones are also done but the growing number of drones is also indicative of Ariel surveillance and encroachment of privacy and data leaks to third party sources . The more commercially viable it gets but still privacy concern outweighs its benefits.

This is quite an uncertain point of time where we can't properly describe what is about to happen. Just like two sides of a coin this also has it's pros and cons but there is need of robust statutory regulations to ensure the citizen to be protected from all kind of threats it holds, with all this the drones are ready to take on the challenges which the future unveils.