Mumbai: The Bombay High Court today admitted a PIL demanding Ashok Chakra as well as other gallantry awards for the officers, belonging to various agencies, who had fought terrorists during the 26/11 terror attacks in the city.
A bench of Justice P V Hardas said that the matter pertained to the policy decision of the government and hence it needs to be argued thoroughly. Accordingly, the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by activist Ketan Tirodkar was admitted.
The Centre informed that it had rejected a proposal sent by Maharashtra government to confer Ashok Chakra and gallantry awards to fire brigade personnel, who had risked their lives in fire-fighting operations during the attack.
The state government had recommended the name of police inspector Steven Mathews Anthony, besides 18 others of the Bomb Disposal Squad (BDS), for the police medal for gallantry. However, the Centre did not consider the names.
This was revealed in a letter written by G C Yadav, Under Secretary to Union Home Ministry, addressing the state Home ministry on November 12, 2013.
The letter, however, did not assign any reason why the names of police and BDS officers recommended by the state were not considered.
Tirodkar filed a rejoinder today saying that even some of the officers injured during 26/11 attacks who figured in the list of the state for gallantry awards were not considered by the Centre for the honour. He cited the case of a police driver, who received three bullets while fighting terrorists at Leopold Cafe.
The activist said that although Additional Commissioner of Police Vishwas Nangre Patil did not figure in the state's list, he was given a gallantry award by the Centre for his role in fighting terrorists during the 26/11 terror attacks.
The court had earlier asked the state to inform about
the steps taken to honour the officials, who showed bravery during the terror attacks.
The petition stated only four police officers, namely Hemant Karkare, Ashok Kamte, Vijay Salaskar and Tukaram Ombale were given the Ashok Chakra award posthumously.
"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 Karkare, Kamte and 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.
164 people were killed and at least 308 were injured during the attacks (November 26-November 29, 2008).