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Apr 08, 2010 at 03:16pm IST

Chatwal, Sehgal, Saif bag Padma awards

New Delhi: Controversial New York-based hotelier Sant Singh Chatwal, theatre personality Zohra Sehgal and Bollywood actor Saif Ali Khan were among many on whom Padma awards were conferred on Wednesday at a glittering ceremony in New Delhi.

Chatwal, Padma award to whom was contested by political parties and against which court cases were filed, looked elated when receiving the award from President Pratibha Patil at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Wearing an off-white bandgala and a bright orange turban, Chatwal had reason to smile as the Bombay High Court Wednesday dismissed a petition seeking to set aside the government's decision to award him the nation's third highest civilian honour.

The Delhi High Court had earlier dismissed a similar plea.

The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had criticised the decision to honour Chatwal as he was charge sheeted by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in a fraud case, while the government had defended its decision saying that there was "nothing adverse on record" against the US-based Indian hotelier.

Doyenne of Indian theatre Sehgal, 97, who was ill and came in a wheel-chair, wearing white-kurta-pyjama, received Padma Vibhushan award, India's second highest civilian honour at the second civil investiture ceremony.

Famous music composer Ilaiyaraaja was awarded Padma Bhushan in the presence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Vice-President Hamid Ansari and other dignitaries at the Ashoka Hall of Rashtrapati Bhavan.

A suave-looking Bollywood actor Saif Ali Khan, wearing off-white sherwani, was conferred with Padma Shri, as actress and beloved Kareena Kapoor cheered on. Wearing Manish Malotra designed white churidar, Kareena and Saif happily posed for shutterbugs.

The evergreen beauty of Indian cinema Rekha was also awarded the Padma Shri for her contribution to the film industry. In a career spanning over 40 years, she has acted in nearly 200 movies.

Oscar winning sound engineer Resul Pookutty received Padma Shri for his contribution to sound mixing in the film industry and abroad.

Olympian boxer Vijender Singh was also conferred with Padma Shri for his contribution to the field of sports.

Also, India's first Formula One driver Narain Karthikeyan was conferred with Padma Shri.

Padma Shri was also conferred on Indian-origin US-based doctor Sudhir M. Parikh. He is also the recipient of the 2006 Pravasi Bharatiya Samman, bestowed on non-resident Indians (NRIs) by the government.

The president on March 31 had conferred 64 awards to eminent personalities, including Nobel laureate of Indian origin Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, noted theatre personality Ebrahim Alkazi and actor Aamir Khan.

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