Mahatma Gandhi is the Father of the Nation and people hold him in high esteem which is far beyond any formal recognition, the Supreme Court said on Friday, refusing to direct the government to honour him with the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian award.
A bench led by Chief Justice SA Bobde told a petitioner that the court accepts and shares his views on the matter but asked him to make a representation to the government.
"He is much higher than the Bharat Ratna. He is held in much greater esteem by the people... what is the Bharat Ratna for Mahatma Gandhi?" Chief Justice Bobde said.
"We agree with your sentiment but we can't accept this petition. You can make a representation to the government," he added.
The petitioner had filed a Public Interest Litigation or PIL, requesting the court to direct the government to honour Mahatma Gandhi with the Bharat Ratna.
With the court saying that the freedom movement icon was higher than the civilian honour, the petitioner requested the court to suggest a greater recognition.
When the court asked him to name an honour "better than Bharat Ratna", the petitioner said, "It is for the government to decide".
Born Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the Mahatma played a pivotal role in India's fight for Independence with his non-violent movement.
India marks October 2, his birth anniversary, as a national holiday and also as the International Day of Non-Violence.
In 2019, India observed the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.