The Central Information Commission has pulled up an RTI applicant for filing a “irresponsible and frivolous” application to know from Benaras Hindu University if the civilian honour ‘Padma Shri’ awarded by central government can be used as a title by the recipient.
The matter was raised by one Pramil Pandey, who works with Life Insurance Corporation of India, after he filed an RTI application seeking to know if ‘Padma Shri’ could be used as prefix before somebody’s name.
He filed the query after an inauguration plaque of Central Hindu Boys School had the title ‘Padma Shri’ prefixed before the name of renowned DNA scientist Lalji Singh, a Padma Shri recipient.
“It is pathetic that he does not know such clarifications cannot be made available to him because PIO cannot procure anything on such questions. He also does not have any duty to provide this under RTI Act,” Information Commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu said.
He is, in fact, objecting to usage of Padma Shri as prefix of name of Professor Lalji Singh on the inauguration plaque, he said.
“It is most irresponsible and frivolous RTI application by an educated person, who does not know anything about the renowned professor and his contribution to the DNA Research and how he richly deserved the title Padma Shri,” Acharyulu said.
However, the Supreme Court in one of its judgments had clearly stated the the award ‘Padma Shri’ cannot be used as titles or prefix to name.
Recently, in a case of two Telugu actors using ‘Padma Shri’ as prefix, the Supreme Court had asked them to give an undertaking that such action will not be repeated.
In another case, the apex court in Balaji Raghavan and S P Anand vs Union Of India had clearly underlined that The National Awards do not amount to “titles” within the meaning of Article 18(1) and they should not be used as suffixes or prefixes.
It had said if this is done, the defaulter should forfeit the national award conferred on him or her by following the procedure laid down in Regulation 10 of each of the four notifications creating these national awards.
The case of Lalji Singh was slightly different as ‘Padma Shri’ title was not added by him before his name.
“No sensible man will have any objection if Padma Shri is used in a ‘Shilapat’ in BHU as prefix to his name, which he served as Vice Chancellor till 2014. Perhaps the appellant did not care to know that during his three-year tenure as vice chancellor at BHU, Padma Shri Singh took Re 1 as a token salary…,” the Information Commissioner said.
He said though it is a useless RTI application and worthless appeal, causing waste of time, energy and video conferencing slot of 15 minutes linking the BHU to CIC using the NIC network, it can serve as an example of a frivolous and senseless RTI request and appeal by an educated appellant, if there is any course or workshop on how not to draft RTI requests by the BHU.
“The Commission directs the public authority to send a certified copy of the profile of Padmashri Lalji Singh, explaining his great contribution to the field of science and to the BHU to the appellant, within one month from today,” he said.