New Delhi: Delhi High Court today directed Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) to give a hearing to Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar, who has sought a selection trial to decide who will represent India in the men's 74 kg freestyle category at Rio Games.
"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)," Justice Manmohan said.
The court also sought the response of the Sports Ministry and WFI and asked them to filed their affidavits. The court has now fixed the matter for further hearing on May 27.
The court's direction came while hearing a petition filed by Sushil, who was present in the court room, seeking a direction to WFI to conduct a selection trial for selecting the wrestler who will represent the country in 74 kg freestyle category.
The counsel appearing for Sushil told the court that the Olympic medallist was injured when a Wrestling Championship was held last year where another athlete Narsingh Pancham Yadav had won a medal.
He said that as Yadav had won the medal in Wrestling Championship, the Olympic berth was given to him in the category. He said that as per the scheme of government of India for promoting wrestlers to win medals at the Olympics, Sushil has been getting funds for his training.
"The petitioner (Sushil) has received the funds even after Narsingh Yadav had won a bronze medal in the Championship. I have a reason to go for a shot or Rio Olympics 2016. Confusing signals have been given to me and there has been no response from WFI. If the selection trial is carried out, I don't want to miss that. The WFI has failed to follow the guidelines," his counsel said.
Countering his submissions, the counsel appearing for WFI told the court that Sushil had been participating in 66 kg freestyle category and now at the fag end he wants to participate in 74 kg category.
"Narsingh Yadav has participated in 74 kg category and has won a bronze medal in the World Wrestling Championship which is far more tough than the Olympics," the counsel said.
The WFI's counsel also claimed that Sushil was avoiding wrestling with Narsingh Yadav and he has not participated in World Championship but Yadav was there.
Sushil's counsel, however, said that his client has not participated in the World Championship as he was injured at that time.
To this, the bench asked the WFI, "Has the wrestling federation taken a decision?"
When the counsel appearing for the WFI said that they have already decided on the issue, the bench said, "You can call him (Sushil) and explain him the decision."
Responding to this, the WFI counsel said, "He (Sushil) knows everything but he is not ready to understand."
To this, the judge said, "This man (Sushil) has also got laurels for the country. The reasons which he is giving are quite worthy and I am not finding any malafide in what he is saying."
When Sushil's counsel said that a direction for conducting selection trials in the first week of June be given, the court said, "The Indian cause will suffer."
"The Indian cause has to be placed on a higher pedestal. Individuals may suffer but the country has to be placed higher," the court said, adding, "You both are equally placed. How can I decide this. I will only interfere as a last resort. Let WFI decide this first as they are experts in this field."
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.
The former world champion had taken the matter to the doorsteps of the Prime Minister's Office. He, though, is yet to get a response. He had also appealed to the Sports Ministry, Indian Olympic Association and the WFI.
According to the rules, a quota belongs to the country and not to a particular wrestler and, thus, it was expected that a trial would be held in the contentious 74kg category to chose between Sushil and Narsingh Yadav.
WFI has been giving hints that it is not too keen on holding the trial in 74kg division, fearing demands from other wrestlers in the remaining seven weight categories India has earned quotas for Rio Games.
Narsingh has been staking his claim to represent India at the Olympics since last year when he secured a quota place at the World Championship in Las Vegas after winning a bronze in 74kg. Sushil, who missed the event due to a shoulder injury, has been demanding a trial.