Thursday, Aug 11, 2022
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Delhi HC Suspends TTFI Executive Committee, Finds National Coach Guilty of 'Match-Fixing'

Star Indian table tennis player Manika Batra had moved to court last year alleging that the national coach Soumyadeep Roy ‘pressurised’ her to ‘throw away’ an Olympic qualifier match.

Manika Batra was left out of the Indian contingent for the Asian Table Tennis Championships 2021.
Manika Batra was left out of the Indian contingent for the Asian Table Tennis Championships 2021. Twitter (@KirenRijiju)

The Delhi High Court on Friday directed the appointment of an administrator to run the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI), saying that its faith was shaken in view of the sports body’s ‘sorry state of affairs’. (More Sports News)

Justice Rekha Palli, who was dealing with the petition filed by the Commonwealth Games gold medallist and Khel Ratna awardee Manika Batra, said that the report of the three-member committee, constituted by it to look into the allegations of match-fixing levelled by the paddler, showed that TTFI “safeguarded the interests of its officials” and that “instead of promoting players, TTFI is dictating terms.”

The judge said that this country takes pride in its sportsperson and people who don't understand how players are to be treated ‘should be out’. The name of the administrator along with other relevant details concerning his appointment will be given in the court order.

Batra, who was left out of the Indian contingent for the Asian Table Tennis Championships, had moved the court last year alleging that the national coach Soumyadeep Roy ‘pressurised’ her to ‘throw away’ an Olympic qualifier match in favour of one of his personal trainees.

“The report reveals a sorry state of affairs. The court is appalled to note some of the observations made by the committee with regard to the manner in which respondent no 1 (TTFI) and respondent no 3 (national coach) were functioning,” the judge said.

“These people should be out of this, people who don't understand how players are to be treated, to give them dignity. These people are the pride of the nation. These people (TTFI officials) have to be suspended,” the judge remarked during the hearing.

“In view of the circumstances, the court is left with no option but to appoint an administrator... The Executive Committee of the respondent no 1 will no longer be allowed to take any decision or interfere in the manner in which the administrator decides to discharge the duties assigned to him under the Code,” the court dictated in its order as it clarified that since there are a number of tournaments coming up, it was expected that the present management will render all assistance to the administrator.

The court said that at this stage, it was not passing an order for the initiation of an independent inquiry into the management of TTFI. In November last year, the court had constituted a three-member committee under the chairmanship of former judge of the Supreme Court Justice Vikramjit Sen to look into paddler Manika Batra's allegation of a match-fixing attempt by the national coach.

In the petition, the paddler had claimed that TTFI was carrying out its selection processes in a non-transparent manner and targeting certain individuals such as herself.

The petition has asserted that the national coach, in a clear conflict of interest, was running a private table tennis academy simultaneously and on one occasion, “pressurized the petitioner to throw away a match only with a view to help one of his trainees at his private academy to qualify for the Olympics, 2020”.

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