New Delhi: Names of Olympic medal winners Sushil Kumar (wrestler) and Vijender Singh (boxing) were struck off by the Padma Awards Committee despite having been recommended by Sports and Home Ministries.
In response to an RTI, Union Home Ministry said it had received recommendation in favour of both the Olympians from Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports on November 20, 2008, well before the cut-off date for accepting the nominations.
"Yes, the nominations were placed before the Padma Awards Committee. These names were not recommended by Padma Awards Committee for 2009," Ministry's CPIO S K Bhatnagar said in reply to an application filed by RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal.
Kumar and Singh had won bronze medals in the Olympic Games held in Beijing.
The Ministry in its reply said 1093 recommendations were placed before the awards committee. Out of all the recommendations 133 names were selected for different categories -- 10 Padma Vibhushan, 30 Padma Bhushan and 93 Padma Shri.
Awards committee is headed by Cabinet Secretary and comprises Home Secretary and Secretary to the President and Principle Secretary to the Prime Minister. Four non-official members this year were Kapila Vatsyayana, Tarun Das, Jyotindra Jain and R Chidambaram.
"Only the final recommendations of the Awards Committee for Padma Awards are submitted on file for the approval of the Prime Minister and the President. Before that no specific record in this regard is generated. As such no file noting its available in the matter," the Home Ministry reply said.
While Olympic Gold medalist Abhinav Bindra was conferred Padma Vibushan but denial of Padma Shri for Sushil Kumar and Vijender Singh created a furore among masses with allegations of promoting only a few games.
Two out of four sportsmen who got Padma awards -- M S Dhoni and Harbhajan Singh -- were cricketers. The fourth sportsmen was Pankaj Advani (Billiards).