The Congress-NCP government in Maharashtra had recommended the name of industrialist Keshub Mahindra for Padma awards in 2002 despite his being an accused in the Bhopal gas leak case.
The recommendation of the then Maharashtra government led by Vilasrao Deshmukh was also vetted by the ‘competent authority’ for the Padma Bhushan.
“The government of Maharashtra had recommended the name of Shri Keshub Mahindra for Padma Awards in 2002. The competent authority had approved his name for ‘Padma Bhushan’..,” the Home Ministry said in its RTI reply to S.C. Agrawal.
It was the industrialist himself, who in a letter dated March 5, 2002 declined to accept the award, it said.
The reason for declining the award was the pending Bhopal case against him.
“As per report of the CBI, he figured in the case (Bhopal Gas leak case) and a charge sheet had been filed in the court,” the reply said.
As per guidelines regulating Padma award, nominations for it are open to all. State and Union Territory governments also send their recommendations which are placed before the Awards Committee. The committee forwards the recommendations to the competent authority for approval.
Former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam had suggested the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajapayee to exclude names of people from awards list who had adverse reports of investigation and intelligence agencies.
Keshub Mahindra joined Mahindra and Mahindra Limited in 1947 and became its chairman in 1963.
He was non-executive chairman of Union Carbide India when the lethal gas leak from its plant killed over 15,000 people in 1984.
He was convicted by the trial court for two years of imprisonment on June 7. He got bail on July 1.