NIA Court Hands Mumbai Businessman Life Term

In A First, NIA Court Hands Mumbai Businessman Life Term, Rs 5 Crore Fine For Creating Hijack Scare On Jet Plane

Judiciary

In the first conviction under the amended anti-hijacking law, a special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court on June 11, 2019, awarded life term to a Mumbai-based businessman and also imposed a fine of Rs 5 crore for triggering a hijack scare on a Jet Airways plane in 2017.

After the incident, Birju Salla became the first person to be put under the “national no fly list” and was also the first to be booked under the stringent Anti Hijacking Act, which had replaced a vintage law of 1982. The new anti-hijack rules came into force in July 2017.

The court of special NIA judge KM Dave holding Salla guilty ordered that the fine amount be distributed among the crew members and passengers on board the plane.

The pilot and co-pilot of the flight will be given Rs 1 lakh each, the flight attendants will be given Rs 50,000 each, and 116 passengers on the flight will be given Rs 25,000 each from the fine collected from the businessman, the court said.

Salla was accused of creating a hijack scare by planting a threat note written in English and Urdu in the tissue paper box of the toilet near the business class of the Mumbai-Delhi Jet Airways flight 9W339 on October 30, 2017.

The NIA had in January last year filed a charge sheet against him under Sections 3(1), 3(2)(a) and 4(b) of the Anti-Hijacking Act, 2016.

Salla was arrested after the plane made an emergency landing at the Ahmedabad airport after a female flight attendant found the note in the washroom which read, “there are hijackers on board and explosives on the plane”.

Initially, the case was probed by the Ahmedabad Crime Branch before the NIA took over.

During investigation, Salla confessed and told investigators that he created a hijack scare in the hope that it would force Jet Airways to shut down its operations in Delhi and that his girlfriend, who worked in the airline’s Delhi office, would come back to Mumbai, according to the NIA.

The note said the plane should be flown to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). The note ended with the words, ‘Allah is Great’.

In a press statement released on June 11, 2019, the NIA said, “During the investigation, clinching evidence regarding preparation of the threat note and its placement on the plane was collected. It was further established that accused Birju Kishor Salla intentionally committed the act to disrupt the operation of aircraft while on board.”

“He also jeopardised the safety of the passengers and crew members on board by an intentional act of putting printed threat letter inside the toilet of the aircraft,” the NIA added.

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