24 January, 2021

Junket Before Judgement Day

Did an army-sponsored holiday sway Judge Phukan into giving George a 'clean chit'? Updates

Jitender Gupta
Junket Before Judgement Day
Six weeks before Justice S.N. Phukan, heading the controversial Tehelka Commission, submitted his findings on February 4, 2004, to the NDA government, apparently giving a clean chit to George Fernandes, he went off on a week-long holiday with his wife. It set back the taxpayer by a little over a crore. The judge and his wife, and some lawyers of the commission, were taken on a junket on a specially chartered VIP aircraft of the Indian air force. They travelled to Shirdi, Pune, Ahmednagar and Mumbai from Delhi. At every destination the judge enjoyed the hospitality of one of the three services. The red carpet was rolled out for him on the instructions of the defence ministry which he was at that point investigating.

The trip was organised in the last week of December 2003, when the Supreme Court and high courts were on winter vacation. An Avro from the Indian air force’s elite communication squadron, which is responsible for ferrying VVIPs including the prime minister and the President, was assigned for the trip. Since civilians were travelling in a service aircraft, the...



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