Are wilful defaulters of bank loans eligible for the ‘Padma’ award?
Mr. Arun Firodia, industrialist and founder Chairman of the Kinetic Group of companies was awarded Padma Shri in January 2012. The ‘Padma Shri’ (also called as ‘Padmashree’) is one of the highest civilian award in India and is awarded in recognition of their distinguished contribution in various spheres of activity including the arts, education, industry, literature, science, sports, medicine, social service and public affairs.
The Padma Awards Committee 2012 consisted of nine members including the Cabinet Secretary, Home Secretary, Secretary to the President, Mr. Pulok Chatterjee, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, Mr. Amal Allana, Dr. R Chidambaram, Mr. Jamshyd N Godrej, Mr. Girish Karnad and Ms. Leela Samson.
This team which selected the individuals for the Padma awards had inputs from several intelligence and investigating agencies like the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), Directorate General of Central Excise Intelligence (DGCEI), Intelligence Bureau (IB), Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).
It has been alleged that several banks have declared Mr Firodia a wilful defaulter continuously between 31 March 2005 and 31 March 2012, which raises a question over the verification process. As per information available on the website of Credit Information Bureau (India) or CIBIL, as of 31 March 2012, Mr Firodia's name has been shown associated with Kinetic Finance and Athena Financial Services which have an outstanding liability of Rs. 54.60 crore and Rs.2.76 crore respectively to debtors, mostly banks.
An application has been filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act seeking information whether a wilful defaulter be awarded “Padma Shri” by the government?