The Tribune – Thirty-six years after plane hijacking, two Sikh militants face trial

Granted two-day bail; have already served life sentence in Pakistan

Satya Prakash

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, 18 July 2017. Thirty-six years after a Srinagar-bound Indian Airlines plane with 111 passengers and six crew members was hijacked and taken to Lahore, two of the five Sikh hijackers appeared before a Delhi court to face sedition charges.

Accused Satnam Singh and Tejinder Pal Singh, who have already served life term in Pakistan for the 1981 crime, appeared before Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Jyoti Kler, who granted them two-day interim bail.

After serving their sentence, Tejinder and Satnam had moved to Canada and the US, respectively, and were deported to India in 1998 and 1999. The other hijackers, Gajinder Singh, Jasbir Singh and Karan Singh, are not in India.

Belonging to the Dal Khalsa, the hijackers had demanded the release of then Damdami Taksal head Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, who was arrested on September 20 that year in a murder case.

Asking the investigating officer to file a report, the ACMM posted the matter for further hearing on July 20.

On behalf of the two accused, senior advocate Mohit Mathur and advocate Manisha Bhandari contended that the duo had already served life sentence and spent 35 years of their life in litigation.

Terming it a “classic example of double jeopardy”, the lawyers said the duo’s entire life would be spent in facing one trial after the other for the “same set of facts”.

Mathur said they couldn’t be tried again for the same incident under a different name, adding that the accused must be discharged.

Dal Khalsa spokesperson Kanwar Pal Singh, who accompanied the accused, said there had been a travesty of justice in the case as the Indian Government had put them on trial after 36 years on “sedition” charges, ignoring their life imprisonment in Pakistan for the same offence.

However, the prosecution and the court maintained that the principle of double jeopardy did not apply as the offences for which they were tried and convicted in Pakistan were different from the ones mentioned in the present chargesheet.

The Delhi Police had filed a supplementary chargesheet in a court on September 29, 2011, under sedition charges. After taking cognisance of the chargesheet, the court had asked the accused to appear before it on July 18 for a fresh trial in connection with the crime that took place on September 29, 1981.

In May 2017, the Delhi High Court had refused to quash the supplementary chargesheet against the accused and asked them to appear before the trial court.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/36-yrs-after-plane-hijacking-two-sikh-militants-face-trial/438789.html

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