Eminent jurist Rajindar Sachar, who was on this year’s list of Padma Awardees, is understood to have turned down the honour to drive home his views that governments should refrain from distributing such awards.
“I know the Supreme Court has upheld the legality (of Padma honours). I am not so much on the legality of it but on the principle that recognition of merit or public service must be left to peer organisations,” argued Sachar. He felt the government’s involvement in these awards wasn’t just out of sync with the principles of equality and democracy but also “created tension and strain in the political field.” The former Delhi High Court Chief Justice said he had to ask to be excused from accepting the award “if we are to keep public life free from any pollution.”
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s principal secretary TKA Nair had conveyed the government’s offer to Sachar, lately in the news for authoring the much-debated report on the status of minorities in India. He asked Nair to convey his gratitude to Singh and “explain his regret at his inability” to accept the award.