Article 18

Abolition of Titles

Clause(1): No title, not being a military or an academic distinction, will be conferred by the State. 

Clause (2):No citizen of India will accept any title from any of the foreign States. 

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

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

Clauses (3) and (4) have been added to ensure that a non-citizen should remain loyal to the State i.e. do not commit the breach of trust reposed in him.

Takeaways from the Article

  • Article 18 is applicable even to foreigners. A foreigner holding office of profit or trust under the state cannot accept any title from any foreign state without the consent of the president.
  • Article 18 prohibits only hereditary titles of nobility. 
  • The British government had created an aristocratic class known as Rai Bahadurs and Khan Bahadurs in India – these titles were also abolished. 
  • However, the military and the academic distinctions can be conferred on the citizens of India. The awards cannot be used by the recipient as a title and do not, accordingly, come within the constitutional prohibition”. 
  • Hence the Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of the National Awards—Bharat Ratna, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri.

Exceptions to Article 18

  • In Balaji Raghavan v. Union of India, 1996, the validity of national awards was challenged in the Court under Article 18 on the ground of their inconsistency with that Article.
  • The Supreme Court came to the conclusion that they did not conflict with Article 18 because they did not amount to ‘titles’ within the meaning of this article.
  • However, SC added that they could not be added as suffixes or prefixes to the names of the awardee and if so, added they could be forfeited.
  • In the light of clause (f) of Article 51A, it is necessary that there should be a system of award and decorations to recognize excellence in the performance of the duties.
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