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Mumbai bizman to appeal against life sentence in hijack hoax case

Acquittal, asking for benefit of the doubt will be focus of appeal: Birju Salla’s lawyer

mumbai Updated: Jun 13, 2019 00:19 IST
Neha LM Tripathi
Neha LM Tripathi
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Maharashtra,Jet airways
Birju Salla was sentenced to life imprisonment and a fine of ₹5 crore(HT Photo)

After Mumbai-based businessman Birju Kishore Salla, 38, became the first person to be sentenced to life imprisonment under the amended Anti-Hijacking Act, his family said he will appeal against the sentence in two weeks.

On October 30, 2017, Salla had planted a letter in the lavatory of a Mumbai-Delhi flight operated by Jet Airways. In it, he had claimed the flight was “covered by hijackers” and there was a bomb in the cargo area. After the letter was discovered, the flight made an emergency landing in Ahmedabad where Salla confessed the threat was a hoax, planted as revenge for a bad breakfast and in hopes that the airline would stop its Delhi operations because his girlfriend, a Jet Airways employee, had been transferred to the capital.

On Tuesday, a special National Investigation Agency court sentenced Salla to life imprisonment and fined him ₹5 crore (to be distributed among the crew and customers as compensation). Salla has also been added to the national no-fly list. Representing Salla, advocate Rohit Verma said, “Acquittal and/or asking for the benefit of the doubt to Salla will be the focus in the first appeal. We will go for first appeal in a fortnight.”

A senior lawyer who is familiar with Salla’s case said, on condition of anonymity, that the chances of a reduced punishment were limited. “The current law leaves no scope for an accused to be considered with a comparatively lighter punishment. However, the constitutionality of the law can be challenged only in high court or Supreme Court,” he said. He added that if the law was modified after being challenged, Salla’s family members may be able to challenge his punishment independently.

First Published: Jun 13, 2019 00:18 IST