The designated Suppression of Unlawful Acts against Safety of Civil Aviation Act (SUSCA) court on Wednesday acquitted an 18-year-old accused of placing hoax calls to Jet Airways’ toll free number in 2012.
Vikas Yadav was accused of making three calls to the airline, threatening to hijack one of its planes if 26/11 terror attack gunman Ajmal Kasab was not released.
The court acquitted Yadav after his lawyer challenged the local police’s jurisdiction in handling the case. Yadav has two more cases pending against him for placing similar calls to the airlines on other dates. Designated judge S G Dige has scheduled these cases for a verdict later this week.
Yadav, a school dropout, had allegedly placed several calls between September and October 2012 to the Jet Airways. A Bihar native, he was arrested from Vapi on January 20, 2013, after he allegedly placed another call threatening to hijack flights.
According to the police, the first few calls were placed from Vapi and one from Mumbai, from SIM cards acquired on false documents. Yadav used his father Gorelal’s SIM card for a call, the police said. Gorelal Yadav was also arrested in the case, but later let off by the police.
According to the Mumbai Police Crime Branch, Yadav had no access to the internet or flight knowledge but could memorise telephone numbers and call on them.
The prosecution alleged that while in the initial calls, Yadav concealed his identity, he later gave out his real name and spoke for a longer time, with some calls even stretching for over an hour. In all, the prosecution examined nine witnesses, including investigating officers and those who received the calls.
“All (witnesses) of them supported the prosecution’s version. However, the investigation was ambiguous on where exactly these calls were made from,” said defence lawyer Younus Tamboli.
The defence had also challenged the police’s jurisdiction in investigating the case. “Section 5 of the Act specifically says that the investigation is to be conducted by a central agency and not the local police. Still, the case was handled by the police here,” added Tamboli.
During investigations, the police claimed that Yadav had placed a few calls in 2011 too. The police’s inquiries had allegedly revealed that Yadav, claiming to be calling on behalf of fugitive gangster Dawood Ibrahim, had threatened to blow up the Rajdhani and Garibrath Express trains. However, on thorough investigations, Yadav was booked only for those calls (three) he allegedly placed to Jet Airways.