Three years after 45-year-old Jitender Kumar Mohla was arrested for threatening the crew of a Goa-Delhi IndiGo plane after claiming to have “hijacked” the aircraft, a district court convicted him under Safety of Civil Aviation Act, 1982, and several IPC sections.
District Judge I S Mehta said there is a need for “zero-tolerance policy on board” since “any breach would result in endangering the aircraft as well as the passengers on board”.
Mohla was aboard the IndiGo flight on February 1, 2009, when he reportedly entered the cockpit while the flight was mid-air and claimed it was a hijack.
Mohla told the crew members that he was an accused in the Kandahar hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane in 1999, and was carrying needles with which he would “infect” others if they resisted him, the prosecution said.
While convicting Mohla for spreading panic, endangering life of others and criminal intimidation, the court acquitted him of charges under the Anti-Hijacking Act as nothing incriminating was found on him when he was arrested on February 2, 2009.
Mohla now faces a maximum punishment of life imprisonment. The sentencing will be on October 30.
“Since nothing was found in the possession of (Mohla) and there is no evidence on record to show that (he) entered the cockpit, the prosecution case under the Anti-Hijacking Act, 1992, fails,” the judge said.
The court noted that Mohla had intimidated the crew members by claiming to be an official of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation and said to have had a role in the Kandahar hijacking.
“The intimidating the crew and (scaring) the crew members by showing a pen (and claiming it to) be a needle, shows that he had pre-requisite culpable intention,” the court said.
The court noted that Mohla was aware that the “terrifying act” would endanger the safety of the 160 passengers and the crew members on board the IndiGo flight.
Mohla has been in judicial custody since his arrest as his bail plea was rejected by the Sessions court as well as the High Court. He had approached the Supreme Court also, but it, too, refused to entertain Mohla’s bail