|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
Fernandes approved IAF jet for Phukan: Pranab
May 04, 2005 21:18 IST
Former defence minister George Fernandes approved in December 2003 the use of Indian Air Force aircraft by Justice S N Phukan, who headed a commission of inquiry into Tehelka expose, though a head of commission of inquiry is not entitled to it, Parliament was informed on Wednesday.
"Normally for a visit of a commission, IAF aircraft are not provided," Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee said in a statement in Lok Sabha, on the visit made by Phukan.
Mukherjee said Fernandes approved the visits, which the commission claimed was for inspecting weapons systems under probe, on December 22, 2003, when it was inquiring into 14 major defence deals.
He said Phukan's wife and eight officials accompanied him on the visit to Pune, Ahmadnagar and Mumbai.
The Minister, who made the statement on reports published in the May 9 issue of Outlook magazine, said only the President, vice-president and the prime minister were entitled to use the VIP aircraft.
Besides, he said, the defence minister, the home minister, the three service chiefs and the defence secretary were also entitled to use the VIP aircraft if it was essential and depending on availability of planes.
Mukherjee made it clear that VIP flights could only be used on official duty.
While stating that for entitled personages, when journey was not for defence purposes, the costs were recovered according to scales prescribed from time to time, the defence minister said no recovery was made in cases where the "competent authority" for reasons of state decides to provide an airlift.