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Stalled Promotions: National Sports Awardees Entangled In Lengthy Court Battle With Haryana

Gradation list merely gives details of the date of joining and is not a reflection of the seniority of the concerned officers

Nine sportspersons are locked in a legal tussle with their home state Haryana. Photo: File

Sportspersons are used to battles of attrition and the spirit can sometimes come in handy when it comes to dogfights of life. (More Sports News)

Ask former hockey captains Sardar Singh (a Khel Ratna awardee) and Mamta Kharb or World Cup-winning former cricketer Joginder Sharma or Commonwealth Games gold-winning former boxer Akhil Kumar.

They are among nine sportspersons locked in a legal tussle with their home state Haryana for promotions, which according to them, have been denied despite being in service as DSPs in the state police for more than a decade, doing everything that is required of them.

On Tuesday, the Punjab and Haryana High Court gave them a degree of reprieve when it ordered a stay on all promotions in the state police services till the time their plea was being heard and posted the matter for July 17 next.

"It is informed that no seniority list has been prepared of the State Police Service Officers and the names are being forwarded based on gradation list being prepared by the department.

"We find that there is no provision of preparation of gradation list under the Rules, the respondents are, therefore, restrained from sending names based on the gradation list for further promotion on higher posts," the order stated.

Gradation list merely gives details of the date of joining and is not a reflection of the seniority of the concerned officers.

Their lawyer Sajjan Singh Malik said the Haryana government's bid to submit a gradation list was rightly rejected by the court.

"We informed the court that this list did not reflect the seniority of the persons concerned. The court asked the state government to respond and when they said that they did not have a seniority list, the court said no recommendation for promotion can be given in that case," he told PTI.

"Interestingly, the same Haryana government, in another case, has admitted that gradation list is not a reflection of seniority but in this case, it wanted this to be the basis of promotion. Their position itself in contradictory," he added.

The athletes in questions are fairly known names in Indian sports and it wasn't a surprise when Haryana decided to honour them with DSP positions at the peak of their performances back in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010.

The Haryana government has a six per cent reservation for direct recruitment of "outstanding sportspersons who win gold, silver or bronze medals in Olympics or those sportspersons who bring extraordinary laurel to the country and state of Haryana."

In the original petition filed in 2018, there were 12 sportspersons on board, including Olympic bronze medal-winning duo of boxer Vijender Singh and wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt and former hockey star Sandeep Singh.

All three of them have since withdrawn after quitting the service and taking the political plunge.

Aside from Sardar, Mamta, Akhil and Joginder, the other remaining petitioners in the case are former hockey player Surinder Kaur, former wrestlers Geetika Jhakhar, and Ramesh Kumar Gulia along with former boxer Jitender Kumar and mountaineer Mamta Sodha.

In their plea filed in 2018, they have alleged that "no orders of confirmation" have been passed for them by Haryana despite the fact that "they have rendered almost 10 years of service as DSP."

In an interim order passed in 2023, the court had agreed with their contention that it was impossible for them to complete their probationary duties in time while still being active athletes.

"We are of the opinion that in the facts and circumstances of the case and having regard to the undisputed fact that the petitioners had to participate in tournaments within and outside the country," the court stated.

"...(they) also had to spend time training for the same, to expect them to complete the probation within the two years' period from the date of their appointment, would be a travesty of justice," it said.

It is not that those who join the service through sports quota are denied promotions altogether.

"Commonwealth Games bronze-medallist Jai Bhagwan joined as a Sub-Inspector, he is now a DSP after rising through the ranks," a source close to the developments pointed out.

But it remains to be seen whether these nine, six of them Arjuna awardees, would be able to move up the ladder.