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26-11 heroesThe Centre on Tuesday sought time from the Bombay High Court to file an additional affidavit in reply to a PIL demanding Ashok Chakra as well as gallantry awards for officers of various agencies who had fought terrorists during the 26/11 attacks in the city.

A bench of justices P V Hardas and Shalini Phansalkar- Joshi, hearing the PIL filed by activist Ketan Tirodkar, allowed the Centre to file an additional affidavit by the second week of June.

The Centre earlier informed it had rejected a proposal sent by Maharashtra government to confer Ashok Chakra, India’s top peacetime military honour, and gallantry awards on fire brigade personnel who risked their lives in fire-fighting operations during the three-day terror siege in November 2008.

The state government had recommended the name of Inspector Steven Mathews Anthony, besides 18 others of the Bomb Disposal Squad (BDS), for police medals.

However, the Centre did not consider the names of some of the officers involved in anti-terror operations for Ashok Chakra as well as other gallantry awards and did not give any reason for doing so. The petitioner today said the government had filed two affidavits earlier and it should not be allowed to file a third one.

However, the counsel for the Union government, Rajesh Desai, said he had received instructions from the Centre to seek time for filing an additional affidavit in the matter. The bench then asked the government to submit another affidavit by the second week of June.

The HC had also asked the petitioner to amend the PIL by challenging the rejection of these names by the Centre. Accordingly, the petition was amended and a copy handed over to the Centre on the last occasion.

The high court had admitted the petition earlier, saying the matter pertained to policy decision of the Union government and hence, needed to be argued thoroughly.

Tirodkar had filed a rejoinder, 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, a place frequented by foreign tourists.

The petitioner said though 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 attacks.

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