Partial relief for Sikh hijackers in three-decade-old case

File photo of accused with their lawyer outside Patiala House court in New Delhi.

The Hush Post, New Delhi:  Ajay Pandey, Additional Session Judge of Delhi’s Patiala House court has dropped sedition charges against Satnam Singh Paonta Sahib and Tejinderpal Singh in a 36-year-old hijacking case.

The court has framed charges under 121-A and 121 (waging war against the state) against both. The next date of hearing in this case will be held on March 16. Both the accused who are on bail were present in the court during the hearing.

Notably, five activists associated with Dal Khalsa namely Gajinder Singh, Satnam Singh, Jasbir Singh, Karan Singh, Tejinderpal Singh on September 29, 1981 had allegedly hijacked an Air India flight from New Delhi to Srinagar and forced it to land in Pakistan.

After undergoing 14 year jail term in Pakistani prison both of them returned to Punjab. On their return, Satnam Singh and Tejinder were put on fresh trial with fresh charges u/s 121/121-A/124-A and 120-B of the IPC after 36 years.

Representing the accused in the court, senior advocate Manisha Bhandari argued that the petitioners have already spent 36 years of their life in litigation and have already served one life sentence in Pakistan. The instant is a classic example of double jeopardy… their entire life will go facing trial after trial for one set of circumstance….there should be an end to their agony.

Commenting on the lasted development, Dal Khalsa spokesperson Kanwar Pal Singh said both the accused have felt somewhat relieved and half of their stress has ended. Now, their counsel will move a petition in the Delhi High Court soon to challenge the charges under 121, 121-A IPC.

From the day first, we have been arguing that hijacking is a one – piece act, a fresh case under different offenses including sedition amounts to violation of principle of double jeopardy and Vienna Convention, he said.

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