Delhi High Court: While exercising it’spower under the writ jurisdiction, the single judge bench of Pratibha M. Singh had observed that an irreparable prejudice would be caused to the petitioners if they were not permitted to participate in the trials, as they would in effect be excluded from competing for the Asian Championship 2023 as also the Paris Olympics 2024. The Court, accordingly, held that the petitioners ought to be permitted to participate in the trials in their respective categories to be judged on their own merit.
In the matter at hand, professional wrestlers challenged their rejection for the reason of not meeting the eligibility criteria for participation in the trials of the Asian Championship 2023.
The Oversight Committee, consisting of celebrated sportspersons like M.C Mary Kom, Yogeshwar Dutt and Babita Phogat, appointed by Union of India to run the Wrestling Federation of India, fixed the criteria for selection of wrestlers as medallist only in the published international championships. However, the National Games organised by the Indian Olympic Association were excluded from the said criteria.
The petitioners contended that only those wrestlers who participated in the Asian Championship 2023 would be able to represent India in the 2023 Senior World Championship which is an Olympic qualifier.
The petitioners further contended that their exclusion was arbitrary inasmuch as the highest games held in India were the National Games, whose medal winners were excluded.
The Court had noted that the published criteria excluded a large number of medal winners in national and international games, reason for the same not evident at this stage. The Court was of the view that the purpose of the trials was to ensure that the best sports persons participate in the championship and the exclusion of National Games appeared to have adversely affected the petitioners.
The Bench had observed that irreparable prejudice would be caused to the petitioners if they were not permitted to participate in the trials, as they would in effect be excluded from competing for the Asian Championship 2023 as also the Paris Olympics 2024.
The Bench had considered this position and the fact that talented wrestlers like the petitioners ought not to be excluded as there ought to be greater talent to compete in the trials, this Court had opined that the petitioners ought to be permitted to participate in the trials in their respective categories.
With this observation the Court had held that the petitioners were permitted to compete in the trials to be judged on their own merit.
However, the respondents were directed to file a short affidavit explaining the basis of the criteria adopted by the Oversight Committee, including the reason behind the exclusion of National Games from the qualification criteria.
The matter was adjourned for hearing 05-04-2023.
[Anuj Kumar v Union of India, 2023 SCC OnLine Del 1440, decided on 09-03-2023]
Advocates who appeared in this case :
For the petitioner- Advocate Rahul Rathore, Advocate Narender Hooda and Advocate Saurya Lamba;
For the respondent- Central Government Standing Counsel Manish Mohan and Advocate Vikash Singh.