The accidental firing of a BrahMos missile into Pakistan in March last year led to a loss of Rs 24 crore to the state exchequer, the Union government has told the Delhi High Court, reported the Hindustan Times on Tuesday.
On March 9 last year, Islamabad had said that a high-speed Indian projectile entered its airspace and crashed near Mian Channu city in Khanewal district, damaging some civilian property. India’s defence ministry had described the incident as “deeply regrettable” and said that the accidental firing took place due to a “technical malfunction” during a routine maintenance operation.
In August, the ministry had terminated the services of three Indian Air Force officials held responsible for the accidental firing. Pakistan, however, had said that it “rejects India’s purported closure” of the incident, and called for a joint investigation.
One of the officers, Wing Commander Abhinav Sharma, had moved the High Court against his termination.
On Tuesday, the Centre said in an affidavit that the trial of three officers by a court martial was “inexpedient” as the case was sensitive and “also the fact that the international community was interested to know the important practical details regarding the firing of missile”, reported the Hindustan Times.
“Considering the sensitive nature of the subject matter having widespread ramifications for the security of the state, a conscious and considered decision was taken in good faith to terminate the service of the petitioner,” it said. “Such a decision has been taken in the Indian Air Force after 23 years as facts and circumstances of the case warranted such action.”
The Centre said that the decision to terminate the petitioner’s service was objective and just. It said that the actions of the petitioner resulted in potential threat to object and personnel, caused damage to the reputation of the Indian Air Force and the country and the exchequer lost money in the accidental firing, according to the newspaper.
“It is indeed ironic that the petitioner has attempted to shift his blame to other officers knowing fully well that his failures contributed significantly to the launch of the missile,” the reply said.
The Centre said it would not discuss the evidence on record in its reply as it will have an adverse impact on the security of the State. It, however, added that the proceedings of the court of inquiry will be shown to establish the lapses of the petitioner.