A Delhi Court on Friday dropped sedition charges against Satnam Singh and Tejinderpal Singh in the 36-year-old Indian Airlines plane hijacking case.
After hearing, the court has framed charges under Section 121-A and 121 (waging war against the state) under the provisions of Indian Penal Code against both the accused.
It is alleged that five militants -- Gajinder Singh, Satnam Singh, Jasbir Singh, Karan Singh and Tejinderpal Singh -- were associated with the Dal Khalsa and hijacked an Indian Airlines plane on September 29, 1981. The plane was carrying 111 passengers and six crew members from New Delhi to Srinagar and they forced it to land in Pakistan.
Accused Satnam and Tejinderpal who have already served life term in Pakistan for the 1981 crime were put on fresh trial with fresh charges on their return. After serving their sentence, Tejinder and Satnam had moved to Canada and the US and were deported to India in 1998 and 1999. The other hijackers Gajinder Singh, Jasbir Singh and Karan Singh are not in India.
The hijackers had demanded the release of then Damdami Taksal head Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, who was arrested on September 20 that year in a murder case. Defence Counsel submitted that the petitioners have already spent 36 years of their life in litigation and have already served one life sentence in Pakistan.
Additional Session Judge Ajay Pandey on Friday after hearing the matter dropped the sedition charges against Satnam and Tejinderpal and adjourned the matter for March 16.