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By Ayesha Arvind PUBLISHED: 00:18 GMT, 11 October 2013 | UPDATED: 00:27 GMT, 11 October 2013

That the workhorses of the Indian Air Force are falling out of the sky at an alarming rate does not seem to worry the Centre. After all, it's not the government's fault; poor Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) workmanship is to blame, it says - never mind that the local manufacturer of the Soviet-era fighter jet is a Public Sector Unit. Naturally, HAL won't agree. That's just what the Centre has said in a sworn affidavit to the Delhi High Court during a hearing in a case about the MiG-21 initiated by a serving IAF wing commander earlier this year.
Blame: The Government told the Delhi High Court that HAL's poor workmanship was to blame for MiG-21 accidents
Blame: The Government told the Delhi High Court that HAL's poor workmanship was to blame for MiG-21 accidents

Wing Commander Sanjeet Singh Kaila, severely injured for life by an ejection from a malfunctioning MiG in 2005, had approached the court saying that flying the MiG-21 amounted to a violation of his Fundamental Right to Life and to work in a safe environment due to frequent accidents. In its counter-affidavit submitted before the High Court on Wednesday, the Centre submitted that the accident was caused due to manufacturing defects on part of HAL, a claim that has been denied. The HAL counsel instead told the court that it only manufactures MiG-21 fighter jets as per orders placed by the government and that it follows all prescribed standards for manufacturing. Kaila was posted at Naal Air Force Station in Rajasthan in 2005. On January 4, then Squadron Leader Kaila took off on a regular exercise with three other pilots. Soon after take-off, Kaila's MiG began listing dangerously. Within moments, the pilot next to Kaila told him the MiG was on fire, and near-complete engine and control failure followed. Kaila did not eject immediately even though he was well within his rights to because he was above a populated village at that point. Kaila managed to pull away before ejecting. The ejection, however, left Kaila with severe neck and spinal injuries, and unfit to fly. In May this year, he approached the Delhi High Court seeking attribution of responsibility for the accident. Notices were then issued to the Centre and HAL. On Thursday, the Centre and HAL further submitted before HC that they could not be blamed for infringing upon the petitioner's Fundamental Right to Life under Article 21 since it is known that an IAF pilot's job involves calculated risks and certain professional hazards. The counsel for the Union of India submitted that following the accident, a court of inquiry was conducted at Subroto Park in Delhi on July 13, 2005.

DANGER ZONE Besides IAF officials. HAL also validated the finding in its final Defect Investigation Report.30 a." Comments (0) Share what you think Who is this week's top commenter? Find out now Published by Associated Newspapers Ltd Part of the Daily Mail. has accepted this. "The inquiry reveals that sub-par workmanship on the afterburner manifold at HAL during production was a probable cause of the accident. on January 4. "The sortie began at 10. The inquiry further established that inadequate workmanship at HAL during welding the nozzle onto the after burner had a causation impact. It also submitted that following the court of inquiry. including the Air Chief. the Centre said. "remedial measures have also been initiated to prevent recurrence of such accidents. 2005 and no abnormality was observed till line up and on takeoff roll. X-ray checks carried out after welding at HAL failed to detect the abnormality.m. HAL. The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group © Associated Newspapers Ltd . itself the result of a manufacturing defect." the Centre said. two representatives of HAL were also present at the inquiry that revealed the accident had been caused due to a failed nozzle.

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