Posed as DGCA official, threatened to infect passengers with needles

A chartered accountant who threatened the crew and passengers of a Goa-Delhi Indigo flight on February 1, 2009, in mid-air by claiming that he had “infected” needles and is an official of the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation, was on Thursday convicted by a Sessions court here under the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against Safety of Civil Aviation Act of 1982.

District & Additional Sessions Judge I. S. Mehta convicted Jitender Kumar Mohla under Section 3(1)(d) of the Act for making false claims so as to endanger the safety of an aircraft in flight. Mohla was also found guilty of violating Sections 336 (endangering personal safety of others), 506 (criminal intimidation), and 170 (posing as a public servant) of the Indian Penal Code. The offence under the Safety of Civil Aviation Act is punishable with life imprisonment and also liable to a fine.

The court, however, acquitted Mohla for the offence under the Anti-Hijacking Act, noting that there was no evidence that he had entered the cockpit. “Since nothing was found in the possession of the accused at the time of his arrest and there is no evidence on record to show that the accused entered the cockpit, the prosecution case under Section 3 (2) and 4 under the Anti Hijacking Act 1992 fails,” the Judge said.

The prosecution had alleged that Mohla entered the cockpit and claimed that he had hijacked the flight, leading to panic. It said Mohla warned the crew members that he was a co-accused in the 1999 hijacking of an Indian Airlines flight to Kandahar and was carrying needles with which he would “infect” others if they resisted him.

Crew members and some passengers overpowered him and he was arrested on February 2.

“The intimidation of the crew by the accused [by claiming] that he is a DGCA official and will make a report against the cabin crew members that the passengers are moving [about] in the aircraft and that he was involved in the Kandahar hijacking and that he terrified crew members by showing a pen as a needle shows that he had prerequisite culpable intention. Even if it is presumed that he [Mohla] had no such intention, it must be attributed that he possessed the knowledge that he was on board the Indigo Flight No. 6E334 carrying 160 passengers and his terrifying act against the cabin crew would endanger the safety of the passengers as well as the aircraft in flight,” the court said.

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