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Haryana Govt advt prefixing Bharat Ratna before Ex-PM Vajpayee;s name flouts SC ruling: HC Advocate Hemant Kumar

PUNJAB NEWS EXPRESS | December 25, 2022 11:33 PM

CHANDIGARH: Today, 25 December, apart from Christmas Day, is also celebrated as Good Governance Day (Sushasan Diwas) in India since the year 2014 in memory of former Prime Minister of India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee whose birth anniversary also falls today.

Even Madan Mohan Malaviya, freedom fighter and founder of Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha was also born on this day. The ruling Modi Sarkar in Dec, 2014 conferred nation’s highest civilian honour viz. Bharat Ratna upon both Vajpayee and Malaviya.

Meanwhile, an official advertisement as published today in print media today by Department of Information, Public Relations and Languages, Government of Haryana on the occasion of Sushasan Diwas used the prefix “Bharat Ratna” before the name of former PM AB Vajpayee although the same has not been prefixed before the name MM Malaviya.

An Advocate at Punjab and Haryana High Court, Hemant Kumar, while strongly objecting against the usage of prefix “Bharat Ratna” before the name of former PM AB Vajpayee in Haryana Govt’s official advertisement asserts that although Vajpayee is one of the recipients of country's highest civilian honour, which was conferred on him by incumbent Modi Sarkar eight years back in Dec, 2014 and formally conferred upon him in March, 2015 but everyone especially the Department of Information, Public Relations and Languages, Government of Haryana must be aware of the fact that a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court of India ruled in Re: Balaji Raghavan/SP Anand Vs Union of India (15 Dec 1995) that all four national awards viz. Bharat Ratna, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri as awarded by the Government of India does not amount to ”Title” within the meaning of Article 18(1) of our Constitution, hence they can't be used as prefixes or suffixes before the name of recipient. It was even laid down by the Apex Court that in the event of doing so, the recipient may be forfeited of such national honour. It is indeed shocking that such a lapse has been committed, perhaps inadvertently, by none other than in official advertisement issued by the Haryana Government. Indeed, such a faux-pas/goof-up has also occurred in the year 2021

after which the Advocate had raised the issue but it seems it has felt on deaf years of higher officers of State Government.

Hemant also recalls that in the year 2007, the then Shiela Dikshit led Cong Govt in Delhi enacted The Bharat Ratna Dr. BR Ambedkar Viswavidyalya (University) Act, 2007 but in the year 2016, the Arvind Kejriwal led first AAP Govt amended the aforesaid Act by removing the twin words “Bharat Ratna” from the Short Title of the aforementioned Act and rechristened it as The Dr. BR Ambedkar Viswavidyalya (University) Act, 2007. This indeed substantiates the seriousness of the Supreme Court’s Constitutional Bench Ruling dated 15 Dec 1995 which prohibits prefixing all four National Awards before the names of their recipients.

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