Ex-CJI, Nasscom ex-chief in race for Padma awards

 Justice J S Verma, who chaired the government-appointed panel to frame a tough law to tackle crime against women in the wake of the Delhi gang-rape incident, has been shortlisted for the country's second highest civilian award — the Padma Vibhushan.

Former Nasscom chief Som Mittal and International Court of Justice member Justice Dalveer Bhandari are also in the shortlist for one of the Padma awards. Others in the shortlist include children's author Manorama Jafa, painter Paresh Maiti and agriculture scientist Dr Rajender Singh Paroda.

Sources said Verma's name is in the shortlist and will in all probability be cleared for the Padma Vibhushan award given for “exceptional and distinguished service”. The Padma Bhushan is given for distinguished service of a high order” and Padma Shri for “distinguished service” in any field of activity.

Normally, the Padma awards are not conferred posthumously. However, the rules say that in highly deserving cases, the government could consider giving an award posthumously if the demise of the person proposed to be honoured has been recent, like within a year before Republic Day on which it is proposed to be announces.

Verma, a highly respected jurist in the country, breathed his last in April last year at the age of 80.

A former chief justice of India and National Human Rights Commission chairperson, Verma was known for his verdicts on judicial activism as well as his intervention in ensuring justice for the victims of the Gujarat riots. Verma had severely indicted the Narendra Modi-led government in the riots.

Last year, Raghunath Mohapatra (Art), S Haider Raza (Art), Prof Yash Pal (Science and Engineering) and Prof Roddam Narasimha (Science and Engineering) from Karnataka had been chosen for the Padma Vibhushan.

In 2012, the honour had been conferred on late cartoonist Mario De Miranda, late musician Bhupen Hazarika, painter K G Subramanyan, Dr Kantilal Hastimal Sancheti (Medicine) and former civil servant T V Rajeswar.

In the past five years, 608 people have been selected for the Padma awards — 38 for Padma Vibhushan, 155 for Padma Bhushan and 415 for Padma Shri.

A high-level committee comprising the cabinet secretary, principal secretary to the prime minister, secretary to the president, Union home secretary and others shortlist names for the Padma awards. The names of the awardees are announced on the eve of Republic Day.

The Home Ministry last year issued a revised proforma for people who wished to
apply for the prestigious civilian honours to ensure transparency in the selection process.

All nominations and recommendations received in the Home Ministry are placed for consideration before the Padma Awards Committee, headed by the cabinet secretary.

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