The A. P. High Court 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 contest 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 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 its 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 at length the arguments of Mr. 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.

Mr. Krishna Mohan, counsel appearing for Mr. Mohan Babu and the producer, said that it was not intentional. The Chief Justice pointed 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 the shareholders. It made this observation when an argument was put forth that the producer was responsible.

The Bench observed that persons in public field must set an example. If they believed in Gandhian values, they must act voluntarily. The Bench said that it would thoroughly look into the whole issue next week.