Delhi court acquits two Sikhs in 1981 hijacking case

Delhi court acquits two Sikhs in 1981 hijacking case
Vijayawada: Air India Express - India’s first international budget carrier - that was launched at Vijayawada airport receives water salute, on Jan 19, 2018. (Photo: IANS)

New Delhi:  Nearly 37 years after an Air India plane was hijacked and commandeered to Pakistan, a Delhi court on Monday acquitted two of the accused in the case who were charged with waging war against the country.

Additional Sessions Judge Ajay Pandey acquitted Tajender Pal Singh and Satnam Singh of the charges under Sections 121 (waging war against the government of India) and 121A (conspiracy to commit certain offences against the state) of the Indian Penal Code by granting them the benefit of the doubt.

The court said that the prosecution had miserably failed to prove its case against them beyond reasonable doubt.

The case against the two dates back to September 29, 1981, when an Air India plane en route to Srinagar from New Delhi was hijacked and forced to land in Pakistan.

The hijackers were arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment in Pakistan, from where both were deported in 2000 after serving life terms. In 2011, the Delhi Police charge-sheeted them in the case.

“The accused have already been convicted by a competent court in Pakistan for the hijacking of the Indian airplane. Neither any charge sheet has been filed for those offences against them nor any charge framed. No sanction for prosecution of those offences was granted by the competent authority,” the court said.

“Hence, in the absence of identification and description of specific role of each accused by the witnesses, this court is of the opinion that prosecution has miserably failed to prove the charge under Sections 121 or 121A of the IPC against either of the accused.”