Dr Christy L Fernandez, the secretary to the President of India, denied that he had breached protocol during the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Sunday.
The Indian Express newspaper stated on Tuesday morning that Dr Fernandez, a senior Indian Administrative Service officer, had 'tapped' the prime minister 'on his shoulder' and asked Dr Manmohan Singh to move from his assigned seat in the VIP box to accommodate President Pratibha Patil's husband Devisingh Shekhawat.
"I revere Dr Singh enormously -- one step ahead of respect -- and I hope he will be nominated one day for the Nobel Peace Prize," Dr Fernandez told this correspondent on the telephone late on Tuesday evening.
During his three-and-a-half years in office as secretary to the President of India, Dr Fernandez clarified that he has "never ever thought of breaching protocol."
"I simply cannot think about doing anything like what was mentioned in the news report," he said.
Dr Fernandez said he has met Dr Singh often and the two men know each other well. "He is the head of the government and I know my limitations and Constitutional constraints," he added.
"God knows what the reporter saw from a distance. Let me assure you that the news item does not deserve even a mention in a gossip column," Dr Fernandez said. I respect and revere him (the prime minister) and I cannot think of ever doing something like that."