In the first conviction under the amended anti-hijacking law, a special National Investigating Agency court on Tuesday awarded life term to a Mumbai-based businessman and also imposed a hefty Rs 5 crore fine for triggering a hijack scare on a Jet Airways plane in 2017.
After the incident on October 30, 2017, 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.
Holding Salla guilty of creating a hijack scare, the court of special NIA judge K M Dave ordered that the fine amount to be given by Salla be distributed among the crew members and passengers on board the plane.
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 aircraft's toilet.
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 Salla, the court said.
The NIA had in January last year filed a chargesheet against him under sections 3(1), 3(2)(a) and 4(b) of the Anti-Hijacking Act, 2016.
The NIA had said Salla prepared a "threat note" in both English and Urdu language and placed it "intentionally" in the tissue paper box of the toilet near the business class of the Mumbai-Delhi Jet Airways flight 9W339 on October 30, thereby jeopardising the safety of passengers and crew on board.
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".
The case was first probed by the Ahmedabad Crime Branch before the NIA took over and re-registered the case under sections 3(1), 3(2)(a) and 4(b) of the Anti Hijacking Act on November 7, 2017.
Salla, who was held on suspicion, confessed and told investigators that he had done it in the hope that it would force Jet Airways to shut down its Delhi operations 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.
The note ended with the words, 'Allah is Great'.
In a press statement released Tuesday, 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.