Bharat Ratna for Tendulkar, Rao Violates Norms: PIL - The New Indian Express

Bharat Ratna for Tendulkar, Rao Violates Norms: PIL

Published: 30th November 2013 08:05 AM

Last Updated: 30th November 2013 08:06 AM

A public interest writ petition was filed in the Madras High Court challenging the award of Bharat Ratna to cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and scientist C N R Rao, on the ground that the mandatory norms of the presidential notification has been violated.

The first bench of Chief Justice R K Agrawal and justice M Sathyanarayanan, before which the PIL from advocate N Kanagasabai came up for hearing on Friday, adjourned the matter to Monday.

Additional Solicitor-General P Wilson said the Centre has already amended the presidential notification enabling sportspersons also to be eligible for the Bharat Ratna award. He will produce a copy of the amended notification on Monday, Wilson added.

According to petitioner, Bharat Ratna was formally instituted by the President by way of a presidential notification in January, 1954. It was subsequently superseded by another presidential notification issued in 1955. Till now, this is the only piece of literature available to regulate the award.

Paragraph 5 of the notification stipulates that Bharat Ratna shall be awarded for exceptional service towards advancement of art, literature and science, in recognition of public service of highest order.

According to paragraph 8, the names of persons upon whom the decoration is conferred shall be published in the gazette of India and a register of all such recipients shall be maintained under the direction of the President.

On December 17, 2011 the media reported the Centre’s decision to change the norms for Bharat Ratna, saying it was now open to excellence in all fields. It was notified on December 16, 2011.

While so, on November 16 this year, the prime minister announced Bharat Ratna for professor. Rao and Tendulkar, through a press release. Another press release from the Prime Minister’s office on November 16 congratulated the two awardees.

Petitioner said the announcement was contrary to paragraph 8 of the 1955 presidential notification. He said when he sought the number of notifications issued by the President from January 1, 2013 to November 28, 2013 in the gazette, he was informed that only 14 notifications had been issued. None of the notifications talked about the change of norms for award of Bharat Ratna.

While Rao is qualified to receive the award under the existing norms, Tendulkar does not fall under the eligible categories of art, literature, public service and science. Giving it to Sachin is beyond the scope of the presidential notification. In the absence of a presidential notification from January this year till now amending or altering or superseding the original notification, the decision is unsustainable in law, petitioner said and sought to restrain the Centre from presenting the award to Rao and Sachin on January 26, 2014, or any other day. It also sought to declare the recommendation of the two names as illegal and quash it.

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