Hyderabad: Telugu film actors M. Mohan Babu and Brahmanandam Kanneganti have landed in trouble for alleged misuse of their Padma Shri awards.
Mohan Babu was conferred the award in 2007, and Brahmanandam in 2009, in recognition of their services to the Telugu film industry.
The AP High Court on Monday faulted the actors for prefixing the name of the award to their names in the credits of the Telugu movie Denikaina Ready that was released in 2012.
Chief Justice Kalyan Jyoti Sengupta pointed out that it would be better for the actors to surrender their awards to the Centre in view of the allegation as gentlemen, and to uphold morals.
The Chief Justice, along with Justice P.V. Sanjay Kumar, was dealing with a PIL filed by senior BJP leader N. Indrasena Reddy, who had challenged the alleged inaction of the Centre in not recommending to the President to annul the awards.
Mohan Babu’s counsel submitted that he was not responsible for the manner in which his name was featured in the film credits, and that it could be the producer who had done it.
Mohan Babu ‘misled’ the court
When actor M. Mohan Babu’s counsel submitted that he was not responsible for prefixing ‘Padma Shri’ to their names in the credits of Telugu movie Denik-aina Ready, Chief Justice Kalyan Jyoti Sengupta noted that the film was produced by Twenty Four Frames Factory Pvt Ltd, owned by film actor M. Mohan Babu’s family and pulled up the parties for misleading the court. He said that the private firm is nothing but another form of a sole proprietary firm.
At one stage, Justice Sengupta said that if the respondents failed to rectify their fault, the court would proceed with investigation apart from calling for details from the Reg-istrar of Companies about the production house and seek details of tax return from the income tax department. The bench also cautioned that it would invoke IPC Section 177 (furnishing false information) against Mohan Babu and his company.
The CJ also wanted to know from counsel whet-her Mohan Babu had political affiliations. Counsel replied that he was with a political party (Telugu Desam) earlier. The CJ pointed out that the court believed that the actor might be very well aware of the consequences if the court proceeded in the case as the elections were near.
The bench in another stage decided to examine the both the actors and Gajendra Naidu, one of the directors of the production house, personally by ordering their presence, but the bench adjourned the matter till Monday next on the request of the counsels of Brahmanandam and Mohan Babu.
The Supreme Court while interpreting Article 18 of the Constitution in a case in 1996 had held that Nati-onal Award do not amount to ‘titles’ (within the meaning of Article 18 (1) of the Constitution), and they should not be used as suffixes or prefixes. If this was done the defaulter would forfeit the national award by following due procedure.
Based on the interpretation, the Union home ministry issued guidelines barring use of the award name as suffix or prefix to the award winner’s name on letterheads, invitation cards, posters, books etc.
No cash allowance or any facility/benefit in terms of concession etc. in rail/air travel is attached to these awards. Prior to issuance of guidelines it was a practice in the Telugu film industry to feature the name of the award with that of the award winner.