DAYASINDHU SHREEHARI N.S
Recently, a demand was raised for withdrawal of Bharat Ratna awarded to Amartya Sen, who is accused of attacking projects and schemes that benefit the economy of India. This demand arose after the publication of an article in Sunday Guardian Live regarding the alleged involvement of Rothchild business empire in manipulating stock markets, funding world wars, engineering large scale decisions in their favour, exercising significant control over the banking system, and using large media outlets to influence public opinion. Amartya Sen is married to Emma Rothschild, one of the heiresses of the Rothchild business empire.
Dr. Subramanian Swamy is the first among those who demanded the withdrawal of Bharat Ratna awarded to Amartya Sen. It is not for the first time that a demand has arisen for withdrawal of Bharat Ratna conferred upon someone. In 2018, the Delhi Legislative Assembly passed a resolution demanding the withdrawal of Bharat Ratna conferred to Rajiv Gandhi, who was conferred with the Bharat Ratna posthumously in 1991. Previously, the Bharatiya Janata Party had also demanded that Rajiv Gandhi be stripped off the award over his controversial speech after the assassination of Indira Gandhi when he said, “Whenever a big tree falls, the earth shakes”.
Bharat Ratna is the highest civilian award in the Republic of India. The decoration is conferred as per the regulations included in notification No.1-Pres./55 and as per notification No. 133-Pres/2011, as amended on 16-11-2011. As per the notifications, Bharat Ratna “shall be awarded in recognition of exceptional service/performance of the highest order in any field of human endeavor”. Holders of Bharat Ratna decoration are ranked seventh in the Order of Precedence as per the guidelines dated 26-07-1979 issued by President’s Secretariat.
Regarding withdrawal of Bharat Ratna once conferred, Regulation 10 of the Notification No.1-Pres./55 says, “The President may cancel and annul the award of the decoration to any person and thereupon his name shall be erased from the Register and he shall be required to surrender the decoration and the Sanad. But it shall be competent for the President to restore the decoration and Sanad and to withdraw the orders of cancellation and annulment. The notice of cancellation or restoration in every case shall be published in the Gazette of India.“
There is no precedent for withdrawal of Bharat Ratna once conferred. As per the Press Communiqué published on 23-01-1992, issued from the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the President of India conferred the Bharat Ratna posthumously on Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. This was challenged primarily on the ground that the Bharat Ratna could not have been awarded posthumously when Netaji’s death was never officially confirmed. However, before the Supreme Court, the Central Government filed an affidavit stating that in deference to the sentiments expressed by the public and by the members of the family of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, the Government of India did not take any further steps to confer the award. In such circumstances, the Supreme Court declared that “the press communiqué should be treated as cancelled.”
The notifications do not specify the circumstances in which the President can take action under Regulation 10. Involvement of the awardee in activities threatening sovereignty and integrity of the nation can definitely be a ground for withdrawing the highest civilian award. However, nobody has till now made any formal request to the President for withdrawing the Bharat Ratna awarded to Amartya Sen.
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