While furnishing a written reply in Lok Sabha, Union Minister of State (MoS) for Home Hansraj Gangaram Ahir on Tuesday said that national awards are not titles. Recipients of the Bharat Ratna and Padma awards cannot use these as prefixes or suffixes to names, said Ahir adding that these can be withdrawn in case of misuse.
The MoS cited Article 18(1) of the Constitution which covers the 'Abolition of titles'. Section 1 of this article clearly states, "No title, not being a military or academic distinction, shall be conferred by the state".
In case of any misuse, regulation 10 of the article grants the President of India the right to cancel or annul the awards of the decoration to any person. As a result, the recipient's name will be erased from the register and the awardee will be required to surrender his/her title. Ahir also told the lower house of parliament that those who have been conferred these awards have been communicated the rules and advised not to use these as a prefix or suffix to their name. He added that this will, however, not apply to those who have been conferred these honors posthumously.
Earlier this year, President Ram Nath Kovind awarded as many as 38 personalities with Bharat Ratna, which is considered the country's highest civilian honor. Since independence, 307 people have been awarded the Padma Vibhushan, 1,255 the Padma Bhushan and 3,005 the Padma Shri award.