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I never asked for a VVIP aircraft: Phukan

Special Correspondent

"I could not imagine it was meant for a VVIP" "No one had told me that I was not allowed to take my wife along on an official trip."

GUWAHATI: Justice S.N. Phukan (retired) on Wednesday declined comment on the statement made by the Defence Minister, Pranab Mukherjee, in Parliament about the trip undertaken by him (Mr. Justice Phukan) in an IAF aircraft but denied that he was influenced by the trip.

He said he had never asked for an IAF aircraft meant for a VVIP.

"I wish my report is published. It will then show whether I have been influenced by the trip or not. It will be improper for me to make any comment on the statement made by the Defence Minister in Parliament as judges of the High Court and the Supreme Court do not make any comment on the proceedings of Parliament," Mr. Justice Phukan told The Hindu.

"I had never asked for a VVIP aircraft. I had asked the Commission Secretary to arrange for a trip for the inspection of the weapon systems under probe. Accordingly, he had taken up the matter with the Government of India which arranged the trip."

Mr. Justice Phukan, who is now chairperson of the Assam Human Rights Commission, said given the condition of the Avro aircraft he had travelled in he could not imagine it was meant for a VVIP.

Useless aircraft

"It was a useless aircraft with limited toilet facility... We had to carry our own luggage. If such is the condition of a VVIP aircraft, then I must say it is really in a sorry state."

During his trip no official lunch or dinner was arranged. "I don't know about my staff. But my wife and I had breakfast, lunch and dinner either in our room or the dining hall attached to the room," Mr. Justice Phukan said.

About his wife accompanying him, he said no one had told him that he was not allowed to take his wife along on an official trip. "When I had gone to Chennai to call on Justice K. Venkataswamy for a briefing on the probe my wife was allowed to travel with me by the Government of India. Also, as a judge of the Guwahati High Court when I had administered the oath to P.R. Kyndiah as Governor of Mizoram, I was provided a helicopter and my wife accompanied me."

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