The accused, Satnam Singh and Tejinder Pal Singh, have had a hearing set for July 20, pending an investigative report from the prosecution.
Both the defense lawyers argued that the petitioners have already spent 35 years of their life in litigation and have already served one life sentence in Pakistan.
“The case is a classic example of double jeopardy. Having spent their entire life facing trial after trial for one event, the defense argued that this charade must stop”, said Senior Advocate Mohit Mathur and Manisha Bhandari.
“They were first tried for the hijacking in Pakistan and sentenced thereafter, they were again tried for same incident by an Indian Court, and now that they’re discharged, you can’t change the verdict and try for the same incident under a different name… it is technically illegal.”
The Delhi police have filed a new charge sheet in the Delhi court on 29 Sep 2011 under the charge of sedition, which asked the accused to appear before the court on July 18 for a fresh trail in the 36 years old case.
Flight IC-423 was hijacked on September 29, 1981, after it took off from Delhi for the Pakistani city of Srinagar via Amritsar. The hijackers associated with Dal Khalsa demanded the release of the Sikh preacher Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale who was arrested on September 20 the same year.
Accompanying the accused, Dal Khalsa spokesperson Kanwarpal Singh said, “There has been a travesty of justice in the case of these hijackers, against whom the Indian government has put them on trial after 36 years, ignoring their life imprisonment in Pakistan for the same offense.”
The other three hijackers, Gajinder Singh, Jasbir Singh and Karan Singh, are currently abroad because of the biased and unfair nature of the justice system in India.
The Court had ruled that they would face a fresh trial for other offenses than those they had been earlier convicted of and sentenced to. The magistrate and the police has ruled that the principle of double jeopardy does not apply in this case as the offenses for which they were tried and convicted for in Pakistan is different to the present charge sheet filed.
But since the hijacking was sole act, a fresh case under different offense amounts to a violation of the principle of double jeopardy and statutes of the Geneva Convention, said Kanwarpal Singh.