Delhi HC seeks response from WFI, sports ministry on wrestlers' plea - Hindustan Times
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Delhi HC seeks response from WFI, sports ministry on wrestlers' plea

Mar 04, 2024 10:26 PM IST

The court posted the case for March 7 to decide if it would allow the federation to go ahead with the selection trials to be held in Delhi's IG Stadium.

The Delhi high court on Monday issued notice in a plea filed by four wrestlers, including Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist Bajrang Punia, challenging Wrestling Federation of India’s (WFI) notice announcing selection trials on March 10 and 11 for the Senior Asian Wrestling Championships and the Asian Olympic Qualifiers.

The plea was filed by four wrestlers including Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat and Sakshi Malik
The plea was filed by four wrestlers including Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat and Sakshi Malik

The court sought the response of union sports ministry, WFI and the WFI ad hoc committee to the plea and posted the case for March 7 to decide if it would allow WFI to go ahead with the trials to be held in Delhi's IG Stadium.

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The plea, also filed by Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik and her husband Satyawart Kadian, contended that WFI deliberately issued its February 26 notice despite being barred by the union sports ministry from conducting competitions and being fully aware of the ad hoc committee’s February 9 announcement calling wrestlers for trials for the same events, on the same dates.

In their plea, the wrestlers have in the interim sought the court to restrain WFI from conducting the trials notified by it.

“Despite being suspended, respondent No.2 (WFI) continues to conduct its illegal activities unabated and unopposed against the interest of athletes, specifically along the very same well-founded grounds over which respondent No.1 (union ministry of youth affairs and sports) suspended respondent no 2. On one hand while respondent No.1 and respondent No.3 (WFI ad hoc committee) have issued press release, circulars, orders and letters stating that respondent No. 2 has no right to hold any event, on the other hand respondent No.2 is brazenly carrying out its activities with utter disregard to any of the notices or circulars of respondent No.1 and respondent No.3 using the very own facilities and infrastructure of respondent No.1,” the plea read.

Senior advocate Rahul Mehra, appearing for the petitioners, submitted that after the December 21 federation elections, the sports ministry issued an order (on Dec. 24) restraining WFI's executive committee from carrying out administrative activities and directing the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to constitute an ad hoc committee to manage the federation's affairs.

Mehra submitted that the ministry had on December 27 constituted the ad hoc panel and argued WFI's acts were illegal since the December 24 and 27 office orders were still in operation. Considering his submissions, the court said WFI's activities were in utter disregard of the sports ministry’s office order issued in December.

“Today there is an order and you (WFI) have been warned twice... As long as this order (December 24 and 27) stands, then that is the operative order… there is an ad hoc committee which has been appointed…. You (WFI) are in utter disregard of the office order… have you challenged the office order? As a matter of fact is there an ad hoc committee in place to oversee your operations? Are you aggrieved or not?” a bench of justice Sachin Datta said to senior advocate Dayanan Krishnan, who appeared for WFI.

Mehra submitted that the sports ministry, while barring WFI from conducting championships or competitions on January 7, had categorically stated that any championships organised by the latter's suspended EC will be treated as unsanctioned and unrecognised. He argued that even the January 7 order was in operation with the status quo maintained. Elections at the outset are illegal and all the consequential actions are illegal, Mehra said.

The WFI lawyer submitted that if it is barred from holding elections, athletes sent to any international event would not be allowed by United World Wrestling (UWW) to represent India. He told the court that UWW lifted WFI's suspension on February 12 with conditions.

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