3 years

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The Voice against Sachin’s Bharat Ratna

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Sachin Tendulkar is the latest celebrity to feel the heat of Sudhir Kumar Ojha’s righteous indignation
Two court cases are challenging the Central Government’s decision to award a Bharat Ratna to Sachin Tendulkar immediately after his retirement. Sudhir Kumar Ojha, an advocate from Muzaffarpur in Bihar, has called for summons to be issued to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde.

The Chief Judicial Magistrate, Muzaffarpur, will hear the case on 10 December. Meanwhile, the Allahabad High Court has reserved judgment on a similar case filed by an IPS officer and a social activist.

Ojha insists that the highest civilian honour of the land is for a lifetime of service. A candidate must wait until she has either exhausted all possibility of serving the nation, or until there are no chances of controversy sullying her image. To satisfy that condition, Ojha suggests the award be withheld until a candidate assumes a certain age or confirmed incapability to behave questionably. As a sporting icon, Dhyan Chand, the hockey wizard, deserved the award far more, says Ojha; past life, he is safely beyond all controversy. “I admire Tendulkar’s batting like everyone else, but is there a guarantee that not a single controversy will touch him in the course of his life ahead? ” Ojha asks.

Over the past few years, the 45-year-old electrical goods contractor-turned-lawyer has gained a reputation as a litigant against celebrities. He has filed about 490 cases against heavyweights such as Amitabh Bachchan, Hrithik Roshan, Sonia Gandhi and Raj Thackeray. Detractors dismiss him as a publicity seeker, but for Ojha, litigation is a form of public service: “I go to court whenever I see an insult to our tradition and culture [or some] injustice to people.”

“I do not harass celebrities; I have filed several PILs and exposed even more official corruption,” he fumes, but admits that the cases against celebrities have brought him fame and more clients.

Ojha took on Raj Thackeray in 2008 when the latter made insulting remarks against Biharis. “Do you know,” he chuckles, “how he pleaded for shifting the case from Bihar, fearing for his life?”