Abolition of Titles

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Article 18 – Abolition of titles

(1) No title, not being a military or academic distinction, shall be conferred by the State.

(2) No citizen of India shall accept any title from any foreign State.

(3) No person who is not a citizen of India shall, while he holds any office of profit or trust under the State, accept without the consent of the President any title from any foreign State.

(4) No person holding any office of profit or trust under the State shall, without the consent of the President, accept any present, emolument, or office of any kind from or under any foreign State.

Explanation:

The hereditary titles of nobility like Maharaja, Raj Bahadur, Rai Bahadur, Rai Saheb, Dewan Bahadur, etc, which were conferred by colonial States are banned by Article 18 as these are against the principle of equal status of all.

In 1996, the Supreme Court ruled that the National Awards—Bharat Ratna, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Sri etc. do not amount to ‘titles’ within the meaning of Article 18 that prohibits only hereditary titles of nobility. Therefore, they are not violative of Article 18 as the theory of equality does not mandate that merit should not be recognised. However, it also ruled that they should not be used as suffixes or prefixes to the names of awardees. Otherwise, they should forfeit the awards.

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