Sunday, February 13, 2022

‘Why data not retrieved from Salla’s laptop?’

Ahmedabad: The Gujarat high court posed a question to the Centre and the advocate representing Mumbai-based businessman Birju Salla, the first convict under new Anti-Hijacking Act, on why no data could be retrieved from his laptop from the day he allegedly prepared the threat note, which he planted on a Mumbai-Delhi flight leading to its grounding on October 30, 2017.

On Friday, the bench of Justice J B Pardiwala and Justice V D Nanavati, which is hearing Salla’s appeal against his life imprisonment sentence, asked assistant solicitor general Devang Vyas and Salla’s counsel Vikram Chaudhary to explain why no data could be retrieved from Salla’s laptop for October 27, 2017, when according to the National Investigation Agency (NIA), Salla prepared the threat note in English and translated it into Urdu using Google Translate.

During the trial before the special court, NIA produced CCTV footage of Salla’s office in Mumbai of October 27, 2017 showing him typing on his laptop and then taking a printout, which showed two paragraphs. However, from the data retrieved from his laptop, it showed that there was no activity on the webpage that day. However, it was reflected from the retrieved data that the webpage was used on October 28. In holding Salla guilty of planting the threat note on the flight, which led to panic among the crew and resulted in grounding of the flight at Ahmedabad airport.

The high court asked the lawyers to address the court to explain this aspect after resumption of physical functioning on February 21. The high court has heard the appeal and asked the lawyers to throw light on the lack of data on the alleged use of the webpage to translate the threat message.

The prosecution claimed that Salla’s hoax was meant to influence his girlfriend, who was employed by Jet Airways and was living in Delhi. It was aimed at affecting the airline’s prospects so that Salla’s girlfriend, whom he reportedly secretly married in 2017, would return to Mumbai and he could have enjoyed her company more often.

13/02/22 Times of India

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