Court convicts CA for 2009 mid-air hijack drama

Court convicts CA for 2009 mid-air hijack drama

A chartered accountant, who triggered a hijack alert in February 2009 on a Goa-Delhi Indigo flight when he threatened the crew and passengers mid-air by claiming that he had "infected" needles and gun, was today convicted by a Delhi court.

45-year old Jitender Kumar Mohla has been convicted under section 3(1)(d)of the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against Safety of Civil Aviation Act of 1982 dealing with offences on board an aircraft and various IPC Section and faces maximum punishment of up to life term.

Besides the Aviation Act, the court convicted Delhi-based Mohla under various provisions of the IPC dealing with endangering life or personal safety of others and criminal intimidation and reserved its order on quantum of sentence for October 30.

"The accused Mohla is convicted under 3(1)(d) of the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Civil Aviation and 336/506/170 of the IPC," District Judge I S Mehta said.

The court, however, acquitted Mohla for the offence under the Anti Hijacking Act observing that nothing incriminating was found from his possession when he was arrested on February 2, 2009.

"Since, nothing was found in the possession of the accused at the time of his arrest and there is no evidence on record to show that the accused entered into the cockpit, the prosecution case under section 3 (2) and 4 under the Anti Hijacking Act 1992 fails," the judge said.

According to the police, Mohla had allegedly entered into the cockpit on February 1, 2009 and had sparked panic by claiming that he has hijacked the plane while he was on the flight.

Mohla had also warned the crew members that he was one of the accused in the infamous Kandahar hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane in 1999 and was carrying needles with which he would "infect" others if they resisted him, the prosecution had said.

The crew members and some passengers had overpowered Mohla and he was arrested on the next day. The court, in its order convicting Mohla, said he had intimidated the crew members by claiming to be a Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) official and had also threatened them by saying that he was one of the accused in the Kandahar hijacking.

"The intimidation to the crew by accused that he is a DGCA official and would make a report against the cabin crew members that the passengers are moving in the aircraft and he was involved in Kandahar highjacking and terrified crew members by showing a pen to be needle, shows that he had pre-requisite culpable intention," the court said.
It also said that Mohla was aware that his "terrifying act" would have endangered the safety of the 160 passengers and the crew members on board.

"Even, if it is presumed that he (Mohla) has no such intention, it must be attributed that he is possessing such knowledge that he was on board in Indigo flight no. 6E334 carrying 160 passengers and his terrifying act against the cabin crew members would endanger the safety of the passengers as well as the aircraft in flight," the judge said.
During the trial, public prosecutor Vishnu Saran Aggarwal had said that Mohla had threatened the crew while on board by claiming that he was carrying a gun and some infected needles and had also said that some of the passengers had been made unconscious by him.

Mohla is in judicial custody since his arrest on February 2, 2009 as his bail plea was earlier rejected by the sessions court and the Delhi High Court after which he had approached the Supreme Court which had also refused to entertain his plea.

The court, in its order, said that every person on board a flight should observed certain "standards of behaviour" as per the norms laid down by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the DGCA as India is a signatory to Montreal Convention.

"Any breach of rule would result into the endangering the aircraft as well as the passengers on board. Therefore, what is required is zero tolerance on board," it said.
According to the police, Mohla's behaviour had forced the pilot of the Indigo flight to send a hijack alert, leading to a scare and panic at the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) airport here.

The plane made an emergency landing and was kept in isolation for two and a half hours after it was confirmed that the landing took place due to unruly behaviour of Mohla.

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