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Delhi high court seeks Centre’s response in WFI’s plea challenging suspension | Latest News Delhi

The Delhi high court on Wednesday issued a notice to the Union sports ministry seeking its response in the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI)’s plea challenging the suspension of its elected executive committee (EC) by the Centre within four weeks. A bench of justice Subramonium Prasad has posted the matter for May 28.

The Delhi high court has posted the matter for May 28. (File)

“Issue notice. Mr Pawan Narang for the Union of India accepts notice. Let replies be filed within four weeks. List on May 28,” the court said in its order.

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The court has issued notice a day before a coordinate bench is scheduled to hear a plea filed by four wrestlers including Tokyo Olympics bronze medalist Bajrang Punia seeking directions to the ministry to not revoke WFI’s suspension and further appoint a one-man committee to take over the federation’s management and administration.

The federation has approached the Delhi high court seeking to quash the Union ministry’s December 24 communication abstaining WFI’s EC led by Sanjay Singh from carrying out any activities pertaining to managing and administrating its day-to-day activities.

The trigger for issuance of the communication was Singh announcing the under-15 and under-20 nationals in Uttar Pradesh’s Gonda — less than 50 km from former WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh’s constituency of Kaiserganj — on the evening of December 21, the day he became WFI president after beating Anita Sheoran with a 40-7 margin. Calling it “hasty”, the ministry in the December 24 circular had noted that the prospective participants of the nationals were not notified and the announcement itself was a contravention of the WFI’s constitution.

The ministry also observed various violations of the WFI’s own constitution by its EC, noting the absence of WFI secretary general Prem Chand Lochab from the meeting where the decision to hold age-group nationals in Gonda was taken. Lochab is one of the two members in the 15-man EC who belongs to the protesting wrestlers’ camp, the other being senior vice-president Devender Kadian.

Though the ministry on December 24 had also directed the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to constitute an ad hoc committee to manage and control the affairs of WFI including the selection of athletes, making entries for the participants of the sportsperson in international events, the same was disbanded by the IOA on March 18. The IOA had dissolved the ad hoc committee, appointed on December 27, saying that there was “no further need” for it to run in light of the United World Wrestling (UWW) lifting WFI’s ban and successful completion of selection trials by the ad hoc committee.

In its petition before the high court, the federation has claimed that it was suspended indefinitely without being afforded an opportunity of being heard and issuance of show cause notice. The federation in the plea filed through advocate Hemant Phalpher argued that though the WFI has taken over day-to-day administration, the letter dated December 24 creates confusion with the athletes and public in general as it’s prima facie illegal in the eyes of law.

The elections on December 21, the plea contended, were duly held in the presence of observers from UWW, Union sports ministry, IOA and the returning officer.

“A suspension by the MYAS does not take away the fact that only the WFI is affiliated and recognised by the UWW, IOC and by the IOA. Any international competitions under the UWW and IOC would only welcome teams selected and governed by the WFI. MYAS role is only for financial assistance to the WFI. Such interference in the autonomy of the NSFs is a direct violation of the UWW and Olympic charter,” the plea said.

On April 2, a coordinate bench had directed the IOA to file an affidavit indicating the circumstances in which it dissolved the ad hoc committee for wrestling last month. The same bench had also directed the Centre to file an affidavit indicating its “clear stand” as regards managing the WFI’s affairs after the dissolution of IOAs ad-hoc committee running the suspended body, saying that its March 28 affidavit was “vague” and did not deal with salient aspects of the matter. Centre’s affidavit, justice Sachin Datta underlined, failed to specify if the WFI’s December 24 suspension continued to subsist or not, circumstances that led to the dissolution of the ad hoc committee and the person who would be in-charge of the federation’s affairs pursuant to the disbandment.

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