HC Asks WFI to Sort Out Sushil-Narsingh Issue

New Delhi
HC Asks WFI to Sort Out Sushil-Narsingh Issue
HC Asks WFI to Sort Out Sushil-Narsingh Issue

The Delhi High Court today said "individuals may suffer" but the country has to be placed on a "higher pedestal" and left it to Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) to decide on India's challenge in 74 kg men's freestyle at the Rio Olympics, a bone of contention between wrestlers Sushil Kumar and Narsingh Pancham Yadav.

The court's observation came amidst allegations by the WFI counsel that two time Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar had been approaching the Prime Minister and media for getting Olympic berth even as Narsingh Pancham Yadav had won a medal in world wrestling championship in 74 kg freestyle category.

When Sushil's counsel pressed for a direction to WFI for conducting the trial in first week of June, Justice Manmohan said, "The Indian cause will suffer. We cannot do this at this stage. Indian cause has to be placed on a higher pedestal. Individuals may suffer but the country has to be placed higher."

"He (WFI counsel) is pointing out relevant facts. They (WFI) are the people who will have to take decision. I will only interfere as a last resort. You cannot deny the fact that one of them (Yadav) has given India a place in the Olympics," the court said.

The court, which directed WFI to give a hearing to Sushil, also told his advocate, "you both (Sushil and Yadav) are equally placed. How can I decide this? They (WFI) are the experts. Let them decide first. I cannot interfere in this."

During the hearing, WFI's counsel told the court, "he (Sushil) is going to the Prime Minister and the media."

To this, Sushil's counsel said, "I am going because I am not getting any response from the federation."

At the fag end of hearing, the court asked WFI to sort out the issue and observed, "I think everyone needs to focus on the training aspect. You cannot have such disputes. How these athletes will concentrate."

The court was hearing the plea filed by Sushil in which he has sought a direction to WFI to conduct a selection trial to decide who will represent India in the category at Rio Games.

The court, which asked the WFI to give a hearing to Sushil on the issue, told the federation's counsel, "This person has done many things in the past. You (WFI) do not discredit him. You call him, talk to him and then decide."

"He should be a respected member of the federation. He has won medals. You explain everything to him and as a good sportsman, he will hear you. Keep his dignity and respect and try to sort it out," the bench told WFI's counsel.

The court also issued notices to the WFI and Ministry of Sports seeking their responses on Sushil's plea and asked them to file affidavit by May 23. It asked Sushil to, thereafter, file counter to the affidavits within a day or two.

Sushil was also present in the courtroom during the hearing.

As the proceedings commenced, Sushil's counsel told the court that there were two contenders for the one Olympic berth in the 74 kg freestyle category.

"World wrestling championship was held in July 2015. I did not participate in world championship due to injury. Another athlete goes to world championship and won a medal and berth for Olympic," he said.

"The important aspect is that as per scheme of Government of India for the Olympics, funds were given for training of sportpersons who have the potential of bagging medal at the Olympics. The petitioner (Sushil) received funds even after Narsingh Yadav won the bronze medal in world championship. I have a reason to go for a shot for the Rio 2016," he said.

His counsel further said, "Confusing signals were given to me. I did not have any response from WFI. If selection trial will be carried out, I do not want to miss that. The WFI has failed to follow the guidelines."

To this, the bench said, "See, you cannot undermine the other gentleman (Yadav). He has also won medal. You both are good."

However, Sushil's counsel said, "I am only saying lets have a trial".

Countering his submissions, WFI's counsel said that till January 2014, Sushil had participated in 66 kg freestyle category and now he wants to participate in 74 kg category.

He said that Yadav had won a bronze medal in the world championship which is "far more tougher than the Olympics".

"In a world wrestling championship, there are 40-50 wrestlers in one category. In Olympics, hardly 18 wrestlers compete in one category. A world championship has a very high standard as compared to Olympics," the counsel said.

WFI's counsel claimed that Sushil was "avoiding" wrestling with Yadav and the Olympic medallist had not participated in the world championship trial as Yadav was there.

During the hearing, the bench asked the WFI counsel, "have you taken a decision?"

Responding to it, the lawyer said, "Yes. Names have been sent." He, however, said he would file a detailed reply on it.

The WFI's counsel also said that Sushil was not undergoing training under national wrestling coach.

When the counsel told the bench that the federation has already taken a decision on the names, the bench said, "you can call and explain the decision (to Sushil)."

To this, the counsel said, "He knows everything but he is not ready to understand."

The court, however, observed, "this man (Sushil) has also got laurels to the country. The reasons which he is giving is quite worthy. I am not finding any malafide in what he is saying."

The court directed the WFI's counsel to file an affidavit giving all the details in the matter and fixed the matter for further hearing on May 27.

"This court directs that in the meantime, the petitioner (Sushil) shall be given a hearing by the President, Vice President, Secretary and coach of respondent number 4 (WFI)," the court said.

The court also told Sushil's lawyer, "you go and meet the WFI. This is the federation. Let them say. You hear them and please try to abide by it."

At the fag end of the hearing, counsel appearing for the Ministry of Sports said that they would not interfere in the selection process.

To this, the court asked, "what is your stand in the present factual situation?" The counsel, however, said that he would seek instructions on the issue.

During the hearing, the court told Sushil's lawyer, "I am hearing a writ petition and not an appeal. I am not supposed to see whether sports code was violated or not."

"The person (Yadav) participated in the world championship and won a medal. He secured a place for the country. You cannot undermine him," the court said.

To this, the lawyer appearing for Sushil said, "Yes, he (Yadav) has done well but there are reasons that I could not participate in the world championship."

Sushil's counsel also told the court that he would file an amended memo of parties impleading Yadav as one of the respondents in the matter.

After his name did not figure in India's Rio preparatory camp, 32-year-old Sushil moved the Delhi High Court yesterday with a plea to direct the WFI to conduct a selection trial to decide who will represent India in the men's 74kg freestyle category at the Rio Games.

He had taken the matter to the doorsteps of the Prime Minister's Office. He had also appealed to the Sports Ministry, WFI and the Indian Olympic Association.

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