The Central Information Commission has directed the government to reveal the names of those who recommend individuals for the prestigious Padma awards every year, ruling that such information does not fall within the category of confidential or personal information.
The CIC order has come on an appeal filed by Right to Information (RTI) activist, Subhash Chandra Agrawal, who was denied the information by the home ministry.
“Private individuals or bodies are not bound to recommend names for Padma awards under any law, they do so on their own. The commission is of the view that such nominations/recommendations do not qualify to be confidential or personal information,” the CIC stated in its nine-page order. The home ministry had refused to disclose the names of those recommending nominations and had also declined to give any reason for doing so. On Agrawal’s appeal, the ministry invoked section 8 (1) of the RTI Act, stating that the “name of recommending authority is a personal information and cannot be provided.”
In her order, Central Information Commissioner, Sushma Singh rejected the ministry’s argument. “Needless to that that the Padma Awards are the highest civilian award conferred for distinguished work in various fields….. The respondent have not been able to establish how the names of the persons making recommendations/nominations falls under the category of personal information,” Singh said in her order.
The Padma awards – Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shree are announced on the eve of the Republic Day every year for distinguished service in the fields of art, literature, education, sports, medicine, social work, science, engineering , public affairs, civil service, trade and industry etc.