1981 AI plane hijack: All 5 accused are absconding, says court

1981 AI plane hijack: All 5 accused are absconding, says court

A Delhi court has issued a proclamation against five alleged Sikh militants, who were deported back to India in 2000 after serving a life term in Pakistan for hijacking an Air India plane to that country in 1981, asking them to appear before it on December 3.

Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Sameer Bajpai said the five accused, Tajender Pal Singh, Satnam Singh, Gajender Singh, Karan Singh Kini and Jasbir Singh Jima have been absconding as non-bailable warrants (NBWs) issued against them have been unexecuted and ordered that a proclamation for absconding persons be issued.

"NBWs against all accused persons remained unexecuted. After going through the report,
I am satisfied that the accused persons have absconded. Process under section 82 CrPC (proclamation for person absconding) be issued against accused Tajender Pal Singh, Satnam Singh, Gajender Singh, Karan Singh Kini and Jasbir Singh Jima through DCP, Crime Branch for December 3," the magistrate said.

Under section 82 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), if the court is convinced that a person against whom a warrant has been issued by it has absconded or is concealing himself so that such warrant cannot be executed, it may publish a written proclamation requiring him to appear at a specific place and at a specified time.

The NBWs against the five accused were issued by the court in pursuance of a sessions court order which had earlier asked their fresh trial here in the same hijacking case of 1981, but for different offences arising out of it.

The warrants were issued after the court had taken cognisance of the Delhi police charge sheet, which was filed against the five in 2011 on the sessions court's order.

The Delhi Police has filed charges under sections 121 (waging war against Government of India), 121A (conspiring to commit certain offences against the state), 124A (sedition) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code against the five.

The court had ordered the police to execute the warrants by October 15.

The case against the five dated back to September 29, 1981 when they hijacked an Air India flight from new Delhi to Srinagar and forced it to land in Pakistan, where they were arrested and put on trial and sentenced to life imprisonments.

After serving their terms, they were deported back to India in 2000 after which one of them, Satnam Singh, moved the court here for his discharge in the case registered here in connection with the 31-year-old hijacking incident.

Ironically, he was even discharged by another sessions court, which had said he can not be put on trial for the same offence twice as per the legal doctrine of double jeopardy, which prohibits double punishment for the same offence.

After Satnam Singh was given the relief, Tejinder Singh too moved the court, this time presided by another judge, for his discharge. But the court denied him the relief and asked police to investigate the case afresh and file charge sheet against all the five including Satnam Singh.

The court subsequently issued NBWs against them, taking cognisance of the charge
sheet and saying that "the offence for which the accused persons were convicted in Pakistan is quite distinct and separate from offences for which the present charge sheet has been filed."

He also added that fresh trial of the five would not be hit by the principle of double jeopardy because Pakistan, to begin with, was not legally entitled to try them for offences committed in India.