The Delhi High Court Tuesday upheld the order of a trial court awarding a life sentence to a teacher who posed as a human bomb and hijacked a Chennai-bound Indian Airlines flight in 1993 to highlight corruption.
Hari Singh hijacked the plane, which took off from Delhi, March 27, 1993. He was convicted by the trial court in 2001 and was out on bail since 2003. He would now have to surrender by April 20.
A division bench of Justice S. Ravindra Bhat and Justice G.P. Mittal said: “This court finds no infirmity with the approach or finding of the trial court, the conviction of Hari Singh has to be sustained.”
“The appeal consequently fails and is dismissed,” said the court adding that the appellant (Hari Singh) has to now surrender before the concerned court April 20.
“A conviction is justified in the facts of the case. Unfortunately for Singh there is no sentencing choice once a conviction is returned, because section 4 (of anti-hijacking law) mandates only one punishment and that is life imprisonment,” said the court.
The court was hearing a petition filed by Singh through his lawyer Sandeep Sethi challenging the trial court order awarding him a life sentence.
While rejecting Singh’s plea, the court said: “It was emphasized that the appellant did not behave violently, nor was any arm or explosive or weapon recovered from him. Likewise, the 31-page letter given to the commander (by him) also revealed his concern for the passengers and a great deal of anxiety for their well-being.”
“The letter revealed that Singh was disturbed by the falling social values, corruption in high places, unreality of the political class and violence in society and other public issue,” the court said.
The judges said even though every citizen of this country was worried over the issue of corruption they could not take law in their own hands.
The court suggested to the government to consider the issue of reviewing Singh’s sentence, in exercise of its power.
A Delhi court in August 2001 awarded Singh a life term under the anti-hijacking law, rigorous imprisonment of two years for obstructing the crew, rigorous imprisonment of seven years for kidnapping the passengers along with crew and rigorous imprisonment of seven years for threatening to kill them.
The court also asked him to pay a fine Rs.500 on three counts.
He hijacked the Chennai-bound flight and wanted to take it to Lahore but surrendered at Punjab’s border city of Amritsar after being persuaded by former state police chief K.P.S Gill.
The flight took off from Delhi airport at 6.30 a.m. and when it was about 100 km from Hyderabad, Singh asked the crew to take it to Lahore. But the plane was forced to land in Amritsar as it was low on fuel.