Kalpana Chawla Award: HC rejects petition

Madurai: The Madras High court today dismissed a petition, seeking to quash conferment of Kalpana Chawala Award on Jyothi Nirmala, an IAS officer, by the state government on August 15 2008. Justice V Ramasubramanian, dismissing the petition by former MLA R Appunatesan, said he had filed it after three years of conferment of the award on Jothi Nirmala. "The writ petition is liable to be dismissed on the ground of delay and lapses."

Besides, the petitioner was not one of the contenders for the award as he was a male. He had also failed to establish how he is aggrieved by conferment of the award on Jothi Nirmala, the judge said.
The judge said there appears to be an underlying motive behind Appunatesan filing the writ petition, though it had not come out to the surface. It is clear that Jothi Nirmala had taken extra efforts to curb the activities of those involved in unlawful sand quarrying.

"I do not know if the petitioner or any of his friends had suffered at the hands of the IAS officer when she took effective steps to curtail illegal sand quarrying operations." I would not have had such a doubt if the petitioner had made his credentials very clear in his affidavit. But he had not,the Judge said and dismissed the petition.

The state government had instituted an award in the name of Kalpana Chawla, the first Indian woman astronaut, who died while on her second space shuttle mission. The award comprised a medal and cash certificate of Rs five lakh and is presented annually on Independence day.