J&K firm on trying Qureshi
2 January 2001
New Delhi: The Jammu and Kashmir Government continues to stick to its decision to prosecute Mr. Mohammed Hashim Qureshi for hijacking a Fokker Friendship plane of Indian Airlines in 1971. Mr. Qureshi is lodged in Tihar Jail here on a Delhi court order. He surrendered before the immigration authorities at the Indira Gandhi International Airport on December 29. Seeking vacation of the High Court's stay on a Delhi court order handing over Mr. Qureshi to the Jammu and Kashmir police, Mr. Ashok Mathur, counsel for the State, today reiterated that the accused needed to be tried by a Srinagar court for being an agent of Pakistan, robbery and kidnapping. He said that Mr. Qureshi was tried and convicted by a Pakistani court for illegal confinement and discharged of the allegation of an agent of India under the Pakistan Penal Code and the Enemy Agents Ordinance, 1943; the offences for which he was tried, convicted and discharged were committed in that country and the court concerned there was competent to try these offences. Since the offences of kidnapping and robbery under the Ranbir Penal Code and the Enemy Agents Ordinance, 1948 of Jammu and Kashmir were committed within the territory of the State, a Pakistan court would not have any jurisdiction to try these offences. He further told a Division Bench comprising Mr. Justice Cyriac Joseph and Mr. Justice S.N. Kapoor that the benefit of Article 20 of the Indian Constitution would not extend to Mr. Qureshi as he was not in danger of being prosecuted twice for the same offence; the offences committed in Pakistan and in Jammu and Kashmir were completely separate ones, he added. Supporting the Jammu and Kashmir Government's stand, the Delhi Government Counsel, Ms. Mukta Gupta, said that mr. Qureshi was not accused of committing a single offence; he was charged with committing different offences in different circumstances. Therefore, the bar on a second trial for the same offence was not attracted in his case, Ms. Mukta said. The argument remained inclusive. The Bench will now hear mr. Qureshi's counsel on Thursday. Mr. Qureshi had hijacked the plane when it was on a routine flight from Srinagar to Jammu and forced the crew to land it at Lahore. The plane was blown up after the passengers and the crew had alighted. The passengers, who included two children and four members of the crew, had been held hostage at the Lahore airport.