Old scuffle at hotel may cost Saif his Padma Shri

Old scuffle at hotel may cost Saif his Padma Shri

Old scuffle at hotel may cost Saif his Padma Shri

Actor Saif Ali Khan may have to face the ignominy of losing the Padma Shri conferred on him with the government examining a demand for taking back the national award in the light of a Mumbai court framing charges against him. 

In its reply to an RTI query filed by activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal, the Union Home Ministry informed him that his demand for withdrawing Khan’s honour is “under examination”.

Agrawal had, on March 14 this year, filed a complaint with the Home Ministry raising the issue to take back the Padma Shri award from Khan as charges were framed against him by a Mumbai court for a scuffle at a Mumbai restaurant.

As per rules, the President can withdraw the declaration of Padma awards to anyone, especially when there are allegations of criminality. Khan was conferred with the Padma Shri in 2010 for his contribution to the field of art.

A court recently framed charges against Khan and two of his friends — Shakeel Ladak and Bilal Amrohi — under Section 325 (assault) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code. It is alleged that Khan had punched a South Africa-based businessman and his father-in-law at a Colaba hotel in February 2012.

Khan and his two friends have pleaded not guilty after the metropolitan court in Mumbai read out the charges to them in March this year. 

As per procedure, a person is honoured with a Padma award only after obtaining his/her character and antecedent reports from various premier investigating agencies — RAW, Intelligence Bureau, CBI, Central Board of Direct Taxes, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Central Excise Intelligence and Sebi.  Of late, the Padma awards have invited criticism with activists and the public questioning the choice of awardees.

Questions were raised on conferring the Padma Shri to Arun H Firodia in 2012, with complaints submitted to Rashtrapati Bhavan claiming that he was declared a defaulter by banks and it was entered in the website of Credit Information Bureau (India) Limited.

Last December, the Home Ministry informed the Lok Sabha that it is “not a fact” that a lot of reports are received about favouritism in the selection of names for the Padma awards.

It said though there were no rigid criteria for selection, the awards committee looks for lifetime achievement while making a selection. “It should not be merely excellence in a particular field but the criteria have to be excellence plus,” the ministry said.