SC corrects govt over ‘Rafale could’ve helped in Kargil’ remark

Attorney General KK Venugopal made the assertion while trying to portray the nation's need for high-capability fighter jets in times of combat.

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New Delhi:  The casualties faced by the Indian armed forces in the Kargil war would have been far less if the country had Rafale fighter jets back then, the centre told the Supreme Court on Wednesday. However, its impassioned justification of the nation’s need to acquire the aircraft from France failed to impress the bench, which pointed out that Attorney General KK Venugopal may be mixing up timelines to make a point.

“Soldiers lost their lives in the Kargil war. Had Rafale been used during the war, it could have hit the hilltops from 60 kilometers away,” Attorney General K K Venugopal told a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi.

He said that all due procedures were followed while entering into the inter-government agreement with France for acquisition of 36 Rafale jets, and all decisions were approved by the Defence Acquisition Council.

“This is a sensitive area and a necessity of the country. Even the Air Force chief has been writing to us to enhance the capability of the force owing to depleting fleet of aircraft,” the AG said while concluding his arguments during the day-long hearing on a batch of petitions challenging the Rafale deal.

The CJI then said, “Mr. Attorney, Kargil was in 1999-2000? Rafale came in 2014.” Venugopal laughed and said, “I meant hypothetically, if Rafale would have been there during the Kargil war.”

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