J&K and Ladakh HC directs the authorities to grant NOC to Bilquis Mir to participate in Asian Canoe Sprint Olympic Qualifier in Japan as Chief Finish Line Judge

Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court

Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court: While considering the instant petition filed by Bilquis Mir seeking permission/NOC to travel to Japan and judge the Asian Canoe Sprint Olympic Qualifier taking place in Japan from 14-04-2024 to April 21-04-2024; the Bench of Sindhu Sharma, J., directed the respondents grant NOC/ permission to the petitioner to travel abroad for the event scheduled in Japan in the first instance. The Court noted that since the sporting event in Japan is taking place in April 2024, and if the petitioner is not able to attend the same, then she would lose all opportunities to participate in the qualifier and this may even act as deterrent for her appointment as Chief Line Finish Judge in future.

Bilquis Mir is an international athlete and coach in the sport of Canoeing and Kayaking and was selected by the Asian Canoe Confederation as a Chief Finish Line Judge in the Asian Canoe Sprint Olympic Qualifier to be held in Japan. She has also been selected as a Judge (ITO) for the Paralympic Games to be held in Paris, France, from August to September, and is nominated from Asia for 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris that is to be held in September 2024, as the first ever Technical Officer from India.

However, when the President, Indian Kayaking and Canoeing Association, requested the respondent to issue a No Objection Certificate (NOC) to enable the participation of the petitioner in the afore-stated competitions, the respondents did not issue the same despite repeated requests.

The respondents argued that the petitioner is facing investigation under Section 5 (1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, regarding her appointment as Physical Education Teacher and such requires mandatory vigilance clearance by ACB before processing her case for a visit to foreign country. Furthermore, the form submitted by her on the online portal was not accepted as she did not submit her property statement.

Perusing the petition and the arguments raised by the respondents, the Court pointed out that only reason for petitioner travel abroad is to participate in the Asian Canoe Sprint Olympic Qualifier to be held in Japan, on an invitation, which will bolster and promote the sport of canoeing and kayaking. It was noted that the respondents did not contend any apprehension that the petitioner might evade arrest.

Given the urgency of the sporting event in Japan, where the petitioner was selected as Chief Finish Line Judge and that the petitioner might lose out on further athletic opportunities which in turn may have a deterrent effect with regard to such position being provided to the athletes in India, the Court directed the respondents to permit the petitioner to visit Japan for the Olympic Qualifier.

[Bilquis Mir v. UT of J&K, 2024 SCC OnLine J&K 254, decided on 15-04-2024]

*Order by Justice Sindhu Sharma

Advocates who appeared in this case:

For petitioner- Najmi Waziri, Sr Adv. With Shariq Reyaz, Adv.

For respondent- Sajad Ashraf, GA

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