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Padma Awards as titles

C.V. Narasimhan, former Under Secretary General, United Nations, writes:

Recently, the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, New Delhi, issued a circular letter to all Padma awardees, calling upon them to desist from using the Padma titles either as prefixes or suffixes to their names. My inquiries go to show that this circular was issued because of a very large number of cases involving misuse of the Padma Awards. In many cases, the awardees are not the offenders: it is the organisers of public functions who violate the rules prohibiting the use of Padma - as prefix or suffix in the belief that this lends added prestige to the function.

The text of the M.H.A. letter, written by Yashwant Raj, Joint Secretary, is as follows:

"I am directed to say that the constitutional validity of the Padma Awards was challenged in two public interest writ petitions. The matter was adjudicated upon by the Supreme Court, which gave its verdict on 15th December 1995.

"While upholding the constitutional validity of the Padma Awards, the Supreme Court had directed that the awards should not be used as suffixes or prefixes. The relevant observations contained in the judgment of the Supreme Court are as follows:

" `The National Awards do not amount to `Titles' within the meaning of Article 18(1) (of the Constitution), and they should not be used as suffixes or prefixes. If this is done, the defaulter should forfeit the National Award conferred on him or her by following the procedure laid down in Regulation 10 of each of the four Notifications creating these National Awards'."

"I am to request you to kindly abide by the direction of the Supreme Court so that the Padma Award is not used as a suffix or a prefix or as a title in letter heads, invitation cards, posters, books etc."

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