Mumbai: Hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) demanding `Ashok Chakra` awards to martyrs of the 26/11 terror attacks and petrol pump allotments to their kin, the Bombay High Court asked the Maharashtra government on Friday if it would also consider members of the police bomb disposal squad also for the gallantry awards.
A bench headed by Justice P V Hardas asked the state of Maharashtra to file a reply on these lines by September 25.
The PIL, filed by former journalist Ketan Tirodkar said that the efforts of all policemen died fighting Pakistani terrorists, including Mohammed Amir Kasab, during the terror attacks on November 26, 2008 should be recognised with Ashok Chakras, the country`s highest gallantry award.
The PIL said that just as top officers like Hemant Karkare, Ashok Kamate and Vijay Salaskar and Tukaram Ombale were given Ashok Chakras, other policemen who fought Pakistani terrorists and died bravely in the line of duty, should also be considered for the award.
Even bomb disposal squad members who risked their lives by defusing bombs during the 26/11 terror attacks had never been considered for gallantry awards, the PIL said.
The Centre had awarded petrol pumps to families of Karkare, Salaskar and Kamte. This facility should also be extended to other martyrs, the PIL said.
However, the Maharashtra government said that the Ashok Chakra was given by the Union Home Ministry and petrol pump allotments were given by the Union Petroleum Ministry. As such, it did not present these awards and it was the union government which had this prerogative.
The petition was therefore "devoid of merit" and deserved to be dismissed, Maharashtra government under secretary Kailas Bilonkikar said in an affidavit.
The court adjourned the hearing for three weeks.