The calls for bestowing Sachin Tendulkar with the Bharat Ratna may have got louder after India's World Cup triumph but giving the country's highest civillian honour to the batting icon would require tweaking of the criteria that has been laid down for the coveted award.
The Bharat Ratna was institutionalized in 1954 and has so far been given to 41 eminent personalities, none of whom are sportspersons, the reason being the criteria for the coveted honour.
Constitutional expert Subhash Kashyap says given the current rules "Tendulkar does not qualify for the honour and giving the award to him would require a change in the rules."
According to the criteria at present, the award is given for exceptional contribution in the fields of art, literature, science and social service. The criteria does not have any mention of sports.
Kashyap says the government has to decide whether it wants to include sports in the criteria for the award. The Sports Ministry will have to present such a proposal for cabinet approval.
"Once the cabinet gives its approval, the Home Ministry can bestow this honour on not just Sachin Tendulkar but any other athlete," he said.
The Indian cricket team's prominent players such as Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Harbhajan Singh, Yuvraj Singh and Virender Sehwag have all asked for the honour to be bestowed on Tendulkar after the side's World Cup win.