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Delhi High Court: Dinesh Kumar Sharma, J. denied relief to Swastika Ghosh and Manush Shah (‘Petitioner(s)'), table tennis players who challenged the decision taken by Table Tennis Federation of India regarding the players who will represent India in Commonwealth Games 2022.

The petitioner(s) filed writ of Mandamus directing the Table Tennis Federation of India (‘Respondent 1') to include the petitioners in the list of 4 selected players for the women’s table tennis team for the Commonwealth Games, 2022 as their names have not been included in the final selection list by the Selection Committee and the Committee of Administrator despite fulfilling the selection criteria as laid down by the Federation.

Counsel for petitioner submitted that the process of the selection has not been adopted correctly and the persons who have been included in the list or being proposed to be sent to participate in the commonwealth games are much below in the ranking as compared to the petitioners before the Court.

Counsel for respondent submitted that the names have already been finalized and have been sent to the Indian Olympic Association on 07-06-2022 and now the Indian Olympic Association might have sent the names further and the courts are not an appropriate forum to make the selection of players to participate in the games and it is only for the expert bodies to decide.

The Court observed that it is a settled proposition of law that issuance of a writ is a discretionary remedy, and the court can refuse to exercise its jurisdiction even if the petitioner may have a claim in law.

Reliance was placed on Punjabi University v. UOI, 2011 SCC OnLine Del 3496 wherein it was held that if the power of judicial review were to be extended into matters such as these also, it would adversely affect the sports.

The Court noted that a mere mistake is not sufficient for this Court to exercise powers under Article 226 of Constitution of India. A writ can be issued only when there is something more than a mere error/mistake. The court in its writ jurisdiction can interfere only if its decision is illogical or suffers from procedural impropriety or shocks the conscience of the court in the sense that it is in defiance of logic or moral standards. The court cannot clothe itself with the power to make a choice and should not substitute its decision over a decision of an expert committee. It may be reiterated that the scope of judicial review is limited to the deficiency in decision making process and not the decision.

The Court further opined that the committee of administrators has minutely examined the claim of each of the sports person and passed a detailed order while finalizing the list, which is under challenge. The power of judicial review in the matters relating to sports can be exercised only if there is an allegation of bad faith. The courts do not have any expertise to get into the selection and finalization of players for participation at the international level. This court is conscious of the fact that any such findings can be interfered with only if there is any perversity or arbitrariness in the findings arrived at by the federation concerned.

The Court thus held “Committee of Administrator has weighed different factors and therefore, this court finds itself unable to interfere in exercise of its power of judicial review. This court also finds complete absence of any arbitrariness or malafide in the decision arrived at by the Committee of Administrators.

[Swastika Ghosh v Table Tennis Federation of India, WP (C) No. 9488 of 2022, decided on 20-06-2022]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Arijit Prasad, Sr. Advocate and Keshav Ahuja, Advocate, for the Petitioner;

Moazzam Khan, Aman Gupta and Brijesh Ujjainwal, Advocates, for TTFI/R-1;

Harshit Jain, Poonam Das, Yashima Sharma and Prakhar Sharma, Advocates, for the Sports Authority of India R-2;

Vineet Dhanda with Sarvan Kumar, Advocates, for UOI;

Deepak Biswas, Shilpa Gamvani and Atmaja Tripathi, Advocates, for R-6;

Ritika Jhurani and Dinesh Sharma, Advocates, for the R-7.

*Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief

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