Justice Phukan has also complained to the media that the VVIP plane given to him was 'useless' and did not have proper toilet facilities. Enquiries with the IAF reveal that the IL-76 aircraft in which Justice Phukan flew back to Delhi from Mumbai costs Rs 18 lakh for every hour in the air. Which means for every four minutes that the judge and his entourage flew in the plane, it cost the taxpayer a neat Rs 1.5 lakh (see box). Had the judge, his wife and his eight-member team all flown executive class in a commercial airline, the Mumbai-Delhi fare for them would have been only Rs 1.20 lakh. Instead, it cost the defence ministry Rs 72 lakh to transport them on a special IAF plane.
Ostensibly, the entire trip was to inspect weapon systems. But with two days devoted to sight-seeing and the time spent in flying from Delhi to Pune and Mumbai to Delhi, the members of the commission had effectively just two days to 'inspect and familiarise' themselves with the 14 weapon systems they were investigating into. In the end, the junket cost the taxpayer nearly Rs 1 crore.