The ordeal that this Amdavadi went through, for no fault, serves as an eye-opener to all. The crucial takeaway being: avoid suitcases with a zipper section on the outer flap. You never know what could make its way in. In a case that dragged on for three years, Sailesh Shah (name changed on request), was finally cleared of all charges by the Bombay HC on Wednesday.
An executive with an international machinery firm in Ahmedabad, Shah was a frequent flier who globe-trotted across countries in connection with supply of equipment. In January 2019, he boarded an Ahmedabad-Mumbai-Frankfurt flight, completed the immigration formalities in Ahmedabad and checked-in his baggage.
The baggage was cleared by customs and Shah boarded the flight. However, on reaching Frankfurt, he was informed that his baggage had not arrived from Mumbai. After umpteen inquiries with airlines and Mumbai airport authorities, he was informed that “a live 9 mm cartridge” was found from the zip compartment on the outer flap of his baggage and hence it was not loaded on the flight to Frankfurt.
When Shah returned to India, he was questioned by Mumbai Police only to be told that “a plight similar to Bollywood actor Sunjay Dutt” awaits him. Shortly, an offence was registered.
His lawyers Aditya Khandeparkar and Rashesh Sejpal submitted that the live cartridge was mischievously planted in his bag without his knowledge. His check-in bag was given a “thorough check-in” status by Air India at Ahmedabad. The first airport of departure for Shah was Ahmedabad where his bag was checked in and the final destination was Frankfurt in Germany. Thus, there was no question of any physical contact between Shah and his check-in bag at Mumbai Airport, they argued.
Even the Assistant Public Prosecutor submitted in the court that there was no material evidence linking Shah with the cartridge. The HC quashed the case against him while taking note of a similar incident in the past.
Talking about his three-year ordeal, he shared: “An unimaginable offence was thrust upon me. For three years I could not look into the eyes of my daughter, concerned about what would happen to her, and my wife, if I landed in jail for the crime I did not commit.”
His lawyer Sejpal cautioned that one should be careful about the baggage while flying, particularly when flying internationally.