Delhi HC refuses to entertain plea seeking forfeiture of 'Padma Shri' for using it as prefix

The Delhi High Court has refused to entertain a plea seeking directions to the Centre to forfeit the 'Padma Shri' award conferred on a person for allegedly using it as a prefix to his name.

Justice Vibhu Bakhru said that a show cause notice has already been issued by the government to the person seeking his explanation on the issue.

"It is also pointed out that a show cause notice dated August 21, 2018 was issued by the Government of India to respondent no 2, calling upon respondent no 2 to give an explanation in this regard.

"Since respondent no 1 (Union of India) has already instituted the procedure for examining the question, this Court does not consider it necessary to pass any order. Needless to state that respondent no 1 shall consider the explanation provided by respondent no 2, and take such steps as may be warranted in its discretion," the Judge said.

The high court was hearing a plea filed by Ivan Barry Trayling, member of the Royal Bombay Yacht Club, alleging that Gulshan Rai, a Padma Shri awardee, has been using the conferment as a prefix or suffix to his name, which is not permissible.

Rai, who is the president of the club, was conferred Padma Shri for circumnavigating the world on his yacht, Jaykus II.

Advocate S M Dalal, appearing for the petitioner, referred to a Supreme Court judgement and said that it had clarified that the National Awards do no amount to conferring titles, within the meaning of Article 18(1) and they should not be used as suffixes or prefixes.

He further said that if this was done, the award conferred should be withdrawn by following the procedure as laid down in Regulation 10 of the Notifications creating the said awards.

The lawyer said that the petitioner is particularly interested in the present matter, since he was a member of the Royal Bombay Yacht Club and according to him Rai had brought disrepute to the Club by using the Padma Shri as a suffix or prefix to his name.

The high court, however, said, "The said contention is unmerited. First of all, the petitioner is no longer a member of the said club. Second, the said club is competent to take measures against any of its member, if so warranted. It is apparent that the petitioner has no particular interest in the matter."

The government had also earlier said the national awards such as Bharat Ratna, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri "do not amount to titles within the meaning of Article 18(1) of the Constitution and thus are not to be used as prefixes or suffixes to the name of the recipient in any manner whatsoever".