Kochi | The Kerala High Court today directed the Union Home Ministry to see that the list submitted by the state government recommending names for Padma awards for 2016 is in consonance with the Supreme Court direction in Balaji Raghavan case.
A division bench, comprising Chief Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice A M Shaffique, was considering a public interest litigation filed by Advocate D B Binu, president of Kerala RTI Federation, challenging constitutional validity of the list.
The petitioner obtained the list of names recommended by the state for Padma awards under RTI Act. The documents received by the petitioner shows that a cabinet sub-committee had recommended names for Padma awards in violation of the Balaji Raghavan case.
Counsel for the petitioner submitted that the list of 12 persons recommended by the state would lead to the violation of Article 18(1) prohibiting Award of Titles and Article 14 of the Constitution since it does not follow the criteria laid down by the Supreme Court in Balaji Raghavan v Union of India and the scheme of Padma Awards.
According to the petitioner, Balaji’s case set a guideline to ensure Padma awards are truly national in character and above party and political considerations. The state-level committee recommending names for Padma awards should be constituted by the Chief Minister of the state in consultation with the Governor.
The Committee may, among others, include the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, the Chief Justice of the state HC or his nominee and the Leader of the Opposition.
It was argued that the cabinet sub-committee with state ministers K C Joseph, Adoor Prakash, A P Anil Kumar, M K Muneer and P J Joseph as members was purely a political committee constituted by the ruling party.