Satnam Singh and Tajender Pal Singh
Satnam Singh and Tajender Pal Singh

2 acquitted in IC 423 hijack case

ANI | Updated: Aug 27, 2018 20:52 IST

New Delhi [India], Aug 27 (ANI): A Delhi court on Monday acquitted two persons facing trial for their alleged involvement in an Indian Airlines plane hijack in 1981, giving them benefit of doubt. The court said that the prosecution had "miserably failed" to prove its case against the accused "beyond reasonable doubt."
The judgement was announced by Additional Sessions Judge, Ajay Pandey, of New Delhi District, Patiala House Courts.
Carrying 111 passengers, the Indian Airline flight number IC-423 was heading from New Delhi to Srinagar on 29 September 1981 when it was hijacked midair and was forced to land in Lahore in Pakistan. Following a commando operation, the passengers and the crew were rescued and the two accused, namely Tajender Singh and Satnam Singh, along with their associates were apprehended.
After being deported to India, Satnam Singh filed an application in 1999 for his discharge submitting that he was punished by a Pakistan court and had served life sentence there. In February, 2000 he was discharged by the court. Citing same grounds, Tajender Pal Singh also approached the court in July 2000. On this the Delhi Police filed a supplementary charge sheet adding new sections including 121 (waging war against the Government of India), 121A (conspiring to commit certain offences against the state) among others.
Today, in its judgement the Patiala House court observed that the prosecution miserably failed to prove charges under Sections 121 or 121A IPC against either of the accused and both persons were granted benefit of doubt and acquitted of the charges levelled against them.
The order copy of Monday's judgement reads: "It was rightly submitted that specific role and identification of accused persons was required from the witnesses qua any act, which could have been considered as waging war or attempting or abetment to wage war against the Government of India. In the case in hand accused persons were not identified by any witnesses produced by the prosecution to have done any such act."
The court also observed that "no official document, letter or communication was collected by the investigating officer (IO) to verify the names of the crew or the passengers. Hence, the possibility of some specific witnesses being chosen by IO to support his case cannot be ruled out and their testimony cannot be said to be beyond reasonable doubt."
The court further noted that the "accused persons have already been convicted for the alleged hijacking of the Indian Airplane by the competent court at Pakistan. Neither any charge-sheet has been filed for those offences against them nor was any charge framed. No sanction for prosecution of these offences was granted by the competent government." (ANI)