The Bombay high court on Monday asked the Centre to file an affidavit within six weeks in reply to a petition demanding ‘Ashok Chakra’ as well as other gallantry awards for officers, belonging to various agencies, who had fought terrorists during the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai.
The direction was given by a bench headed by Justice PV Hardas and Justice Girish Kulkarni on a Public Interest Litigation filed by social activist Ketan Tirodkar.
CBI had informed the court earlier that the Union government had rejected a proposal sent by Maharashtra to confer ‘Ashok Chakra’ (highest peacetime gallantry award) and other gallantry awards on fire brigade personnel who had risked their lives in fire-fighting operations during the attack.
The court had thereupon asked the Centre to declare its stand on the issue in an affidavit. When the PIL came up for hearing on Monday, the Union government sought time and the court allowed six weeks to file a reply.
The state government had earlier recommended the name of police inspector Steven Mathews Anthony, besides 18 others of the Bomb Disposal Squad for the police medal for gallantry.
However, the Centre did not consider the names.
This was revealed in a letter written by GC Yadav, under secretary to the Union home ministry, addressing the state home ministry on November 12, 2013.
The letter, however, did not assign reason why the names of police and bomb disposal squad officers recommended by the state were not considered.
The bench had earlier asked the state to inform about the steps taken by the government to honour the officials who displayed bravery during the terror attacks.
“Several other officers like Sadanand Date, Vijay Khandekar and Arun Jadhav also showed bravery during the attacks. They did not lose their lives but had fought with terrorists,” the petition stated.
The PIL further claimed that the then Mumbai ATS chief Hemant Karkare, the then ACP Ashok Kamte and senior inspector Vijay Salaskar did not fight with the terrorists directly.
“The trio were killed in an ambush. If they have been awarded Ashok Chakra, then there are several other policemen who deserve the award more than them,” the petition argued.
As many as 164 people were killed and at least 308 injured during the Mumbai terror attacks (November November 26-29, 2008).