ARTICLE 18: ABOLITION OF TITLES

INTRODUCTION

Part III of the Indian Constitution mentions the elimination of titles. The “Abolition of Titles” is covered under Article 18 of the Indian Constitution.

ARTICLE 18: EXPLANATION

The state shall not confer any titles on any person, whether an Indian or a foreigner, under the state services, which are neither academic or military honours. Article 18(1))

Article 18 of the Indian Constitution forbids the state from bestowing any titles on either citizens or foreigners; however, this ban does not apply to awards for academic or military achievement. For instance, using a designation before the name such as CA, MBBS, or IAS is not void and does not violate Article 18(2)

It indicates that any nation that wants to grant the prize to an Indian person should refuse to do so. If someone accepts the title in violation of Article 18, the parliament will decide what to do (2). The Parliament may use its remaining authority to pass laws addressing violations of Article 18 (2).

Without the president’s prior approval, foreign nationals working for the state are not permitted to receive any titles from other countries. Article 18(3)

Any foreigner who maintains a position of profit or trust under the state is not permitted to take a title from another country without the president of India’s permission. For instance, the salary of retired Indian ambassadors from the UN, WTO, and IMF is permitted. If any action is taken that violates Article 18, it will be punished in line with the law. Article 18(3)

PURPOSE BEHIND ABOLITION OF TITLE

Maintaining social equality is the goal of eliminating the title, and maintaining equality is the goal of avoiding harmful assumptions. If people are granted titles, this will cause fears among the general public and prevent the development of solid interpersonal relationships.

It would undermine social cohesion and tranquilly. The nationalists decided to do away with titles in order to uphold democracy’s goals in unanimity. Although it is described as extending the right to equality in Part 3 of the Indian Constitution, it does not guarantee any fundamental rights. Giving titles is against the equality guarantee in article 14’s principle of equality.

In both mediaeval and British India, titles like Rai Bahadur, Sawai, Rai Sahab, Zamindar, Taluqdar, and others were common. According to Article 18 of the Constitution, all of these titles were eliminated. Only innate titles of nobility are forbidden by Article 18.

Democracy shouldn’t produce triumphs and titles. There is no room for a few people to possess titles and therefore create artificial distinctions among members of an analogous society in the construction of a society that aims to achieve political, social, and economic equality and thereby aspires to become really democratic.

A DISTINCTION BETWEEN AWARDS AND TITLES-

These titles were bestowed upon individuals during the British rule who impressed the British with their administrative skills. People receive honours for their contributions to the progress of the arts, literature, and sciences as well as for exceptional acts of public service.

While awards are granted based solely on the job performed by the recipient without regard to the recipient’s race, religion, or sexual orientation, British colonisers gave certain communities these names before to independence in an effort to sow division and enmity among the populace.

Even though they are not forbidden, awards cannot be used as a prefix or suffix. The titles do not contain all of the honours bestowed for outstanding academic achievement. The constitutionality of judgments

In 1954, the Government of India established four awards: Bharat Ratna, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan, and Padma Shri for exceptional services in any field, including public service. Acharya Kriplani strongly opposed the award of such a decoration, which was abolished in 1977 by the Janta government but reinstated in 1980 by the Congress government.

IMPORTANT CASES

Balaji Raghavan v. Union of India (1996) 1 SCC 361.

Facts: It was discovered that the awardees were abusing the awards by using them as titles to qualify their names. In light of the events involving the misuse of National Awards, the awards’ constitutionality was challenged as a violation of Article 18 of the Constitution.

Issue: The question of whether awards such as Bharat Ratna, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan, and Padma Shri are “Titles” under Article 18(1) of the Indian Constitution was raised.

Balaji Raghavan filed a writ of mandamus in the High Court of Madras under Article 226 of the Constitution to prevent the India Union from giving any of the National Awards.

The case was heard by the Supreme Court.

Petitioner – The terms “title” and “distinction” are not defined in Article 18. The National Awards make a distinction based on rank, so the conferment violates Article 14.

Respondent – Awards had devolved into rewards for those who serve the Government’s political goals. Except for military and academic distinctions, the term “title” is used broadly in Article 18(1) to include awards, distinctions, orders, decorations, or titles.

It was claimed that National Awards do not confer nobility, cannot be prefixed or suffixed, and are thus not prohibited. Furthermore, many other countries follow the practise of bestowing awards for commendable services performed by their citizens.

According to Mr. K.T. Shah, the conferring of titles violated fundamental principles of equality. He went on to say that a distinction should be made between titles that are heritable and thus create inequality and titles given by governments to reward merit.

Judgement:

The National Awards do not violate the equality principles enshrined in Article 14 as guaranteed by the provisions of the Constitution.

The equality theory does not state that merit should not be recognised or that citizens who have done exceptional service to the country should not be recognised.

Article 51A(j) calls on all citizens to strive for excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity, so that the state continuously rises to higher levels of endeavour and achievement.

People would be motivated to work harder for the benefit of society if they were rewarded. As a result, there must be a system of awards and decorations to recognise excellence in the performance of those duties. The Supreme Court provided guidance on the procedure to be followed before making awards.

The National Awards are not “titles” in the sense of Article 18(1) and should not be used as suffixes or prefixes. No award should be given unless the National Committee recommends it and the Prime Minister and President of India give their approval. According to Kuldeep Singh, J., conferring Padma awards without a fool proof method of selection will lead to favouritism, nepotism, and even corruption.

Indira Jaising v. Supreme court of India AIR 2017 SC 5017

A petition was filed in this case regarding the use of the designation senior advocate before the name of an advocate.

The Supreme Court ruled that it is not the title, but rather a distinction, and thus does not violate Article 18 of the Indian constitution.

The premise for such a differentiation is outlined in Section 16 of the Advocate Act of 1961[4]. According to Section 16(2) of the 1961 Advocate Act, a lawyer may be given the title of senior advocate if the supreme court or high court determines that he possesses the necessary legal skills, expertise, and knowledge. A permanent group called the “committee for designation of senior advocate” was created by the court and given instructions on all of these issues.

CONCLUSION

It is vital to recognise citizens for their contributions to empowering them, but awarding them for their contributions leads to discrimination not just between awardees and regular citizens but also unhealthy rivalry among awardees themselves. Clause 1 of Article 18 was created to end the corrosive, corrupting habit of having people go about courting favour with the powerful in order to receive special treatment. Awards celebrate a wide range of attributes, including ability, struggle, efforts, etc. in addition to success. Citizenship is legal under the Constitution and does not contravene article 14. If a recipient of an award misuses it, both the award and any potential punishment will be forfeited. The legality of titles should occasionally be decided by the legislator. The purpose of awarding titles should be made clear.

REFERENCES

Books

Constitutional Law Of India-  Dr. J.N. Pandey

Introduction to the Constitution Of India- Durga Das Basu

Constitution Of India- V.N. Shukla

Citations

Balaji Raghavan v. Union of India (1996) 1 SCC 361.

Indira Jaising v. Supreme court of India AIR 2017 SC 5017

http://www.indiankanoon.org

Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

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