HC refuses to interfere in CWG wrestlers selection

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Thursday refused to tinker with the list of selected wrestlers for the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Glasgow but asked the Centre to ensure adherence of the National Sports Code in future selections of athletes and supporting staff by sports bodies.

"This court would like to remind the Ministry of Sports not to abdicate its responsibility from ensuring the guidelines dated September 18, 2008, are followed in letter and spirit," Justice V Kameswar Rao said.

"I do not think, it is case where this court at this stage should grant the relief sought for by the petitioners in the writ petitions. This court also would not like to interfere with the list already sent by the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) to the Commonwealth Games Committee," the court said.

It came down on the Union Sports ministry, which authored the National Sports Code, for not ensuring the adherence of its own code by the WFI.

"Regrettably, I note the author of the Code, the ministry of sports has abdicated its responsibility to ensure the compliance of the National Sports Code (NSC) by WFI," it said.

Three petitions were filed by five wrestlers including Amit Kumar Dhankar, Joginder Kumar, Rahul Aware, Mausam Khatri and Rajneesh Dalal challenging the inaction of a National Sports Federation (NSF), WFI for not selecting wrestling team for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in accordance with the NSC.

Disposing of the pleas, the bench said, "This court justifies the filing of the writ petitions by the petitioners for a just cause, seeking implementation of the Code as formulated by Centre and considers it to be a fit case, where the petitioners must be compensated by granting cost. I quantify the cost Rs 25,000 to be given to each of the petitioners by the WFI."

The wrestlers had also sought holding of trials for selecting wrestlers for the upcoming CW Games as well as suspension of WFI for not following the sports code.

The court refused to accept the pleas of wrestlers, who have been left out, that they be considered for participating in the UK Games saying that it can be done only under special circumstances.

"If the replacement is not permitted, then the list sent on June 11, 2014 is final. This court would refrain itself from commenting that the present circumstances are the special one. The discretion need to be exercised by the Commonwealth Games Federation Executive Board," the court said.

"The list of selectees (wrestlers) was sent on June 11, 2014. Today, is July 3, 2014. It has come on record that on July 9, 2014, the team is going to Belarus for training before embarking on a journey to Glasgow," it added.

"Even if the new list is made, the same needs to be sent to the Commonwealth Games Federation Executive Board for a decision on replacement, which may or may not be accepted," it said.

Earlier on June 30, the court had reserved its judgement on the pleas.

During arguments, the petitioners have claimed that holding of selection trials is mandatory according to the 2011 National Sports Development Code which WFI has not adhered to and also said that the Centre did not ensure that the guidelines were implemented by the sports body.

While the Centre has admitted that the sports code has to be followed mandatorily by national sports federations like WFI, in the present case it could not clarify whether the guidelines have been adhered to as the government had from 2014 stopped appointing observers to look in to the training camps conducted by the various sports bodies.

Meanwhile, WFI had taken the stand that the sports code is not law and if the Centre has not insisted upon its implementation, it is up to the sports body concerned to decide whether or not to adhere to the guidelines.

Earlier, the wrestlers had contended that selection trials prior to any international event, like the 2014 CWG, is mandatory according to the sports code and sought that WFI be de-recognised for not adhering to it.

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