The Andhra Pradesh High Court has suggested to Telugu film actor-producer Mohan Babu and actor Brahmanandam that it would be appropriate if they returned the Padma Shri awards to the Government of India and then contested a writ petition seeking cancellation of the honour.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Kalyan Jyothi Sen Gupta and Justice P.V. Sanjay Kumar on Monday gave this hint while dealing with a writ petition filed by the former BJP State president, N. Indrasena Reddy, seeking cancellation and recall of the awards as the duo had misused them.

Mr. Reddy complained that they had used the title ‘Padma Shri’ before their names for promoting the Telugu feature film “Denikaina Ready” (‘Ready for Anything’, produced by Mr. Mohan Babu and starring his son Vishnu). The film was earlier embroiled in a controversy over allegations of showing a particular caste in poor light but the High Court had disallowed the petition.

In the latest case, the Union of India, the film producer and the two actors, all of whom have been named respondents, filed the counter-affidavits.

The Bench heard the arguments of Anthony Reddy, counsel for the petitioner, who pointed out that the script of the film as submitted to the Film Censor Board contained the names of these actors with Padma Shri as prefix.

Krishna Mohan, counsel for Mr. Mohan Babu and the producer, said it was not intentional. The Chief Justice pointed out that the law prohibits misuse and not wilful misuse alone. After perusing the records, the Bench commented that the producer ran a private limited company and, if necessary, the corporate veil would be lifted to know the identity of shareholders. It made this observation when an argument was put forth that the producer was responsible for the problem.