A 38-year-old Mumbai-based businessman has become the first person in India to be convicted under the Anti-Hijacking Act, 2016. Birju Kishor Salla has been sentenced to life in prison and fined Rs 5 crore by a special court of the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
Salla was found guilty of placing a hijacking note in the washroom of a Mumbai-New Delhi Jet Airways flight in October 2017.
The money from the fine will be distributed among the pilots, crew and passengers of the flight. The pilots will get Rs 1 lakh each, the cabin crew members will be given Rs 50,000 and each of the passengers will be given Rs 25,000.
Punishment under Anti-Hijacking Act, 2016:
(a) with death where such offence results in the death of a hostage or of a security personnel or of any person not involved in the offence, as a direct consequence of the office of hijacking; or
(b) with imprisonment for life which shall mean imprisonment for the remainder of that person's natural life and with fine, and the movable and immovable property of such person shall also be liable to be confiscated.
The rules are in line with the Hague Convention of 1971 and the Beijing Protocol of 2010 of the UN body International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
The incident took place on October 30, 2017, when captain Jay Jariwala and co-pilot Ashutosh Newase were informed about the threat letter on board Jet Airways flight 9W-339. They had to make an emergency landing at Ahmedabad without informing the passengers. The threat later turned out to be a hoax.
The NIA had filed the chargesheet under sections 3(1), 3(2)(a) and 4(b) of Anti-Hijacking Act, 2016, which stated that Salla had intentionally planted the threat letter to disrupt the airline operations. Planting of the threat note amounted to credible threat to commit the offence of hijacking.
"There are only two kinds of punishment under the new anti-hijacking law -- life imprisonment until death, or a death sentence. If a hostage is killed, the punishment is death. In lesser circumstances the sentence is life. So the judge had only these two options," Salla's lawyer Rohit Verma told The Times of India.
Salla had done all this in the name of love and over affection. A married Salla allegedly had an affair with a woman working with Jet Airways and had married her three months before he planted the threat letter. He wanted her to stay with him and take care of his ailing father which made him take this extreme step. He reportedly planted the letter since he wanted the woman to quit her job with the airline.
It is reported that the threat letter was filed from Salla's office in Mumbai. He typed the letter and translated it into Urdu with the help of Google to make it seem like a potential terror threat. He planted it in the tissue holder inside the lavatory of the aircraft's business class section, which was later found by a crew member.
"Flight No. 9W339 is covered by hijackers and aircraft should not be land and flown straight to POK. 12 people on board. If you put landing gear you will hear the noise of people dying. Don't' take it as a joke. Cargo area contains explosives land Delhi. Allah is great," read the threat letter made by Salla.
A B.Com graduate from Mumbai's Sydenham College of Commerce and Economics in Churchgate, Salla had ventured into several businesses including gold and construction after separating from his father's business in 2006.
Salla was arrested by Ahmedabad's Detection of Crime Branch (DCB) and the case was transferred to the NIA.