New Delhi: Under attack, mainly by the BJP, for awarding the Padma Bhushan to controversial hotelier Sant Singh Chatwal, the government has on Wednesday defended its decision.
The Home Ministry has said there is no current case against Chatwal. The ministry clarifies that between 1992 and 1994, the CBI had registered five fraud cases against Chatwal. Of these the CBI closed 3 cases, and in the other two, Chatwal was acquitted in court. Chatwal has been accused by Indian and foreign banks of fraud and of defaulting on gigantic loans.
The ministry describes Chatwal as a tireless advocate of India's interests in the US.
On behalf of the BJP, party leader Chagan Bhujbal had written to the Prime Minister asking that Chatwal's Padma Bhushan be withdrawn.
On Tuesday, a spokesperson of the Congress said the decision to honour Chatwal this year was taken by the Home Ministry. "The Padma awards are decided by the Home Ministry after a due process. They might have their reasons for it. Only the Ministry could explain it," party spokesman Shakeel Ahmed said.
The spokesman, however, said that in general the party wants these awards to be given to people who increase its prestige and not to those with a "taint".
"We are not talking of any specific case. But these awards should be given to people who increase its prestige and not to those who have a taint. The award should be given to people whose integrity is not doubtful," Ahmed said.