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Article 18 of the Indian constitution deals with the “Abolition of Titles”.

Article 18: Abolition of titles

18. Abolition of titles.

  1. No title, not being a military or academic distinction, shall be conferred by the State.
  2. No citizen of India shall accept any title from any foreign State.
  3. No person who is not a citizen of India shall, while he holds any office of profit or trust under the State, accept without the consent of the President any title from any foreign State.
  4. No person holding any office of profit or trust under the State shall, without the consent of the President, accept any present, emolument, or office of any kind from or under any foreign State

Explanation of Article 18 of Indian Constitution

Article 18 prohibits the State to confer titles on anybody whether a citizen or a non-citizen. Military and academic distinctions are, however, exempted from the prohibition. Clause (3) is there to ensure loyalty to the Government that such person serves for the time being and to shut out all foreign influence in Government affairs or administration.

This is the reason why the conferment of titles of “Bharat Ratna”, “Padma Vibhushan”, “Padma Shri”, etc. is not prohibited under Article 18 as they merely denote State recognition of good work or exceptional or distinguished services of the high integrity by citizens in any field.

These National Awards were formally instituted in January, 1954 by two Presidential Notifications. The said Notifications also provide that any person without distinction of race, occupation, position or sex, shall be eligible for these awards. It was also made clear that these civilian awards cannot be used as titles and should not be attached as suffixes or prefixes to the name. In 1977, these awards were discontinued but were again revived in 1980. Since then, the National Awards are conferred annually on Republic Day.

Relevant cases

In Balaji Raghavan vs UOI, the Supreme Court upheld the validity of civilian honors but criticized the government for not exercising restraint in awarding these. It held that the national awards were not meant to be used as titles and those who have done so should forfeit the award.

In Indira Jaising v. Supreme court of India, It was held by the Supreme Court that it is not the title it is merely a distinction and thus it is not violative of Article 18 of the Indian constitution.

Also Read: Article 16 of Indian Constitution – Social Laws Today

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