A petition filed in the Madras high court on Friday sought direction to stop the conferment of Bharat Ratna on cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and scientist CNR Rao, contending that mandatory norms of presidential notification had been violated.
When the PIL by advocate Kanakasabai came up for admission, First Bench comprising Chief Justice RK Agrawal and justice M Sathyanarayanan adjourned it to December 2.
Additional Solicitor General P Wilson, who opposed the matter for admission, said norms for awarding Bharat Ratna had been amended by the Centre enabling sports persons also to be eligible for the award. The Bench, which adjourned the matter to Monday, directed the ASG to produce the copy of the amended presidential notification, if any, by that day.
Kanakasabai said Bharat Ratna was first instituted by the President in 1954 through a notification (No:1/54/pres/), which was superseded by another presidential notification (No:1/pres/55). The petitioner contended that this was only the one to regulate the awarding of Bharat Ratna.
Paragraph 5 of the notification clearly stipulates that the award should be given for exceptional service towards the advancement of art, literature and science in recognition of public Service in highest order, he submitted.
As per para 8 of the notification, names of persons on whom it is conferred shall be published in the Gazette of India and a register shall be maintained to record all such recipients as per the direction of the President. He submitted that it was reported in the media on December 17, 2011 that the Centre had decided to change the norms for extending the award to eminent persons in all fields.
He submitted that the Prime Minister announced the award to Rao and Tendulkar on November 16 this tear and another press release from the PMO congratulating them was released the same day. He contended that the announcement was contrary to notification No:1/55/Pres.
He submitted that when he sought clarification on notifications issued by the President, he was apprised that from January 1 this year till November 28, no notification was issued changing the norms for awarding of Bharat Ratna.
He contended that Rao as a scientist is eligible to receive Bharat Ratna as per existing norms, while Tendulkar does not fall under the eligibility criteria. Awarding Bharat Ratna to Tendulkar is beyond the scope of presidential notification and unsustainable in law, he submitted.
Seeking an interim injunction restraining the Centre from presenting the award to Rao and Tendulkar on January 26 next or any other day, he further sought a direction to quash the award granted to them.