competitive exam
Case BriefsHigh Courts


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

Uttarakhand High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: A Full Bench of Ramesh Ranganathan CJ and Sudhanshu Dhulia and Alok Singh, JJ. entertained a writ petition calling into question the exhaustiveness of Article 16(4) of the Constitution of India.

The petitioners in the aforementioned writ questioned the Court, that whether reservation for the ‘sports’ category can be provided under Article 16(1) of the Constitution or whether Article 16(4) was exhaustive in all forms?

The contentions were based on the Order issued by Chief Secretary, Government of Uttarakhand in 2006, which informed that the Governor was pleased to sanction 4% horizontal reservations, for players who were successful at the international/national level, for employment in the services of the State and other organizations. By a subsequent Order of 2009, it was informed that such reservations were only available to domiciled persons.

A learned Single Judge earlier contemplated a petition filed by three sportsperson from different State who sought mandamus against State as they claimed appointment under the sports category. Court took note of the stand of the Government of Uttarakhand, they contended that horizontal reservation was not available to sports personalities, who did not have a permanent domicile in the State of Uttarakhand, and they could not be appointed. The learned Single Judge, thereafter, observed that refusal to appoint the petitioners in the quota, reserved for sportsmen, was illegal as their candidature was entertained, and they were declared successful. Hence, the State was directed to appoint the petitioners on the basis of the 2006 Order. The case went into Appeal and the Division Bench opined that an important aspect had been overlooked by the learned Single Judge, that the Government, by an Order or otherwise, could not reserve any Government post for sports personnel and same is stated under Article 16.

The Division Bench in Appeal stated earlier, “Sub-Article (1) of Article 16, were ‘any office under the State’; therefore, in respect of each and every office under the State, there shall be equality of opportunity for all citizens; this suggested that, in the matter of public appointment, everybody had the right of equal opportunity of being considered; but for Sub-Article (4) of Article 16, no reservation could be made for backward class citizens; but for Sub-Article (4A) of Article 16, no reservation could be made for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes; in other words, if a class did not come within the exceptions, as provided under Sub-Articles (4), (4A) and (4B) of Article 16, the State was bereft of any power to provide reservation for any person in any employment available within the State” . Thus, the Court overruled the decision of learned Single Judge.

Subsequently, the present case was brought before a Division Bench, who observed that it was brought to their notice that the Government of Uttarakhand had taken a decision to accept the judgment mentioned above in Appeal. It was declared that no one including the petitioner of the current Writ was considered in the sports quota; the counsel for the petitioner had contended that he was not a party to the said judgment, and the judgment was wrong as there was an authority under Article 16(1) to make a horizontal reservation.

The aggrieved petitioners of both the aforementioned cases filed a writ before a Full Bench. The learned counsel for the petitioner Alok Singh, submitted that earlier Court had erred in holding that Clauses (4), (4A) and (4B) of Article 16 are exhaustive of all forms of reservation and no reservation can be made under Article 16(1).

The counsel for the respondent-State Paresh Tripathi stated that reservations can no doubt be provided for sportsmen under Article 16(1) of the Constitution. He further contended that no obligation was cast either on the Legislature or the Executive to provide such reservation; it was for them to decide whether or not to provide reservation; a Division Bench in Appeal struck down horizontal reservation even based upon Order of 2006. It was argued that said judgment had attained finality since no appeal was preferred against it. If only Legislature or the Executive pass a law or make a rule or frame a policy afresh, providing reservation in favor of sportsmen, can the petitioners then claim the benefit of reservation under the sports category?

The Court has discussed some really important points based on the writ such as, can reservations be provided under Article 16(1)? Would the Order now passed hold the judgment of Appeal, not a good law? Can a mandamus be issued to the Legislature or Executive? Addressing these issues, the Full Bench, referred to the judgment of Indira Sawhney v. Union of India (2000) 1 SCC 168 , and held that, the opinion of the Division Bench, in Special Appeal, that Article 16(4) of the Constitution of India is exhaustive of all forms of reservation, is not good law; and reservation in favor of categories, other than those in whose favor reservation is provided under Articles 16(4), (4A) and (4B), can be extended under Article 16(1), provided such reservation satisfies the test of a valid and reasonable classification. It further stated that, as the Government Order of 2006, has been held to be non-est by the Division Bench in its order in Special Appeal and order has attained finality, the petitioners in both the Writ Petitions were not entitled to the grant of any relief from the Court.[Dhananjay Verma v. State of Uttrakhand, 2019 SCC OnLine Utt 373, decided on 21-05-2019]