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Double Jeopardy?: Indian court want trial against 5 Dal Khalsa men for 1981 plane hijacking case

September 2, 2012 | By

Bhai Gajinder Singh

Ludhiana (September 02, 2012): A Delhi based Indian Court is reported to have issued “non-bailable” warrants against five Sikhs who were involved in hijacking an Air India plane to Pakistan in 1981. It is notable that only two of the five persons currently reside in India.

According to reports the warrants against five Dal Khalsa mean were issued on August 30, 2012 after Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (ACMM) Sameer Bajpai took cognisance of Dehi Police charge-sheet filed in the case in 2011.

It is notable that a Pakistan court had already held the trial in this case and the alleged accused have undergone the punitive imprisonment awarded by the court in this case.

Bhai Satnam Singh Paunta Sahib

India want these Sikhs to face a fresh trial for alleged other offences than those they had been earlier convicted of and sentenced to. Indian court has fixed the matter for further hearing on October 15.

“In my opinion, there is sufficient material to proceed against the accused persons. I, therefore, take cognisance of the offences under sections 121 (waging war against Government of India), 121A (conspiring to commit certain offences against the state), 124A (sedition) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC),” the judge is reported to have said.

It is notable that September 29, 1981 an Air India flight from New Delhi to Srinagar was hijacked and forced it to land in Pakistan. Hijackers were arrested by Pakistan police and were sentenced life terms by a court there.

Bhai Tejinder Pal Singh

S. Jasbir Singh

Non-bailable warrants are now issued against Bhai Gajinder Singh (living in exile), Bhai Satnam Singh Paonta Sahib (Former President of Dal Khalsa), Bhai Karan Singh Srinagar, Bhai Jasbir Singh Cheema and Bhai Tajinder Pal Singh.

Bhai Satnam Singh Paonta Sahib and Tajinder Pal Singh are currently in India, while other three are believed to be out of this country.

S. Karan Singh

It is notable that Bhai Gajinder Singh, a resident of Chandigarh is the patron of ‘Dal Khalsa’, a political body.

It is notable that Bhai Gajinder Singh, after serving his sentence in Pakistan, did not return to India. He reportedly went to Germany in 1995 and was detained at an Airport there. The government asked Germany to handover Gajinder Singh to India but Germany did not oblige India as it said that Gajinder Singh, would be deported to from where he had come. He is still abroad, but where, nobody knows.

Two others Karan Singh a resident of Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir and Jasbir Singh Cheema, a resident of Khanna in Punjab are said to be in Switzerland since 1995. Both have got asylum in Switzerland, it has been learnt.

Satnam Singh Paonta Sahib is an ex-president and a senior leader of Dal Khalsa. He belongs to Paonta Sahib and after serving his sentence in Pakistan had gone to USA where he had sought asylum. However, his request for asylum was denied and he was deported back to India in the year 2000.

The fifth Sikh hijacker is Tajinder Pal Singh, who after serving his sentence in Pakistan had gone to Canada and filed a petition for asylum. He tried the same for 4 years but was deported back in 1999 after the rejection of his petition for asylum.

It may be recalled that after Satnam Singh Paonta Sahib got deported to India he approached a court here seeking quashing of the case registered here in the case of hijacking the plane. He pleaded that he could not be put on trial for the same offence twice as per the principle of double jeopardy.

The police later approached another court here with a charge sheet filed against the five under the charges of waging war against the country, conspiracy and various other offences.

The magistrate has now ordered that the accused would have to face fresh trial here in the same case but for different offences. He ruled that the principle of double jeopardy does not apply as the offences for which they were tried and convicted in Pakistan and for which the present charge sheet is filed are distinct and separate.

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