SC orders immediate inclusion of Paralympian shooter Naresh Kumar Sharma for Tokyo Paralympics on deadline day

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By PTI

NEW DELHI: In a major victory for shooter Naresh Kumar Sharma before firing a shot in the upcoming Tokyo Paralympics, the Supreme Court Monday ordered the PCI to immediately include the five-time Paralympian as an additional participant for the sporting mega-event in Japan.

Taking note of the urgency of the Sharma’s petition, the bench ordered communication of the order to the Paralympics Committee of India (PCI) through e-mail and sought a compliance report by Tuesday.

“For the time being, we direct the respondent No.1- Committee to recommend the name of petitioner (Sharma) as additional participant/ additional entry for Men’s 50m Rifle Position SH1, at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics without any exception and report compliance in that behalf by tomorrow, i.e., August 3, 2021,” a three-judge bench of justices A M Khanwilkar, B R Gavai and Krishna Murari ordered after an urgent hearing this afternoon.

The hearing assumed significance as the shooter, an Arjuna awardee, through senior lawyer Vikas Singh, mentioned the matter for hearing on Monday itself before a bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana by referring to the urgency saying that any delay would render his plea for selection infructuous as August 2 is the last day for the entry forms to sent.

The CJI had assured the senior lawyer that he would see the files and decide and this led to listing of case for immediate hearing during the day itself.

“Today is the last day,” Singh submitted.

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The three judge bench took up the case and asked about the representation from the PCI and was told by Singh that the President of the committee “switched off her phone after speaking for 5 minutes” with a lawyer named Satyam Rajput.

The bench said it would issue directions if the sports committee does not want to appear and asked Additional Solicitor General K M Natrajan, appearing for Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, about his views on “cut-off date for entering the bubble”.

“There is a requirement to enter the bubble before cut off date.

What is that date? What is the last date to send names,” the bench asked.

The central government has no objection to orders as the team selection has to be done by the committee and the government would be happy if medals increase, the law officer said.

The government will abide by the directions, as may be passed by this Court but it is for the Committee to recommend the names of the participants, the bench said after noting down the statement of the law officer.

“In view of the urgency and, more particularly, in light of the observations made in paragraph of order dated 27.07.2021 passed by the Single Judge of the High Court of Delhi at New Delhi, prima facie, the petitioner ought to have succeeded before the High Court and appropriate directions should have been issued to respondent No.1-Committee,” it said.

Asking the counsel for the shooter to serve the copy of the petition to the PCI, it said the rest of the issues and directions as may be necessary can be considered Tuesday by an appropriate Bench.

“Copy of this order be forwarded to the President, Paralympic Committee of India through email for information and necessary action forthwith,” it ordered.

Tokyo Paralympics is starting from August 24 and the shooter was aggrieved due to his non-selection The Paralympian shooter has challenged the Delhi High Court order which posted his plea relating to his non-selection for the upcoming Tokyo games for hearing on August 6.

The shooter said a division bench of the high court had on July 30 sought responses of the PCI and the Centre on his appeal against its single-judge order which had refused to interfere with his non-selection for the games.

It said the petitioner’s counsel had tried for an early date of hearing before the high court since, as per policy of PCI, the deadline for sending names of final selected candidates for participation in the games is August 2.

“The petitioner humbly seeks intervention of this court in the present matter as the legitimate opportunity of the petitioner to participate in Tokyo Paralympics in R7 event and consequently bring laurels to the country will be lost if the arbitrary, discriminatory and capricious selection of the shooter in R7 event by the selection committee of PCI is allowed,” the plea said.

During the July 30 hearing before the high court, Sharma’s counsel had submitted that the event will start from August 24, and August 2 is the deadline for Tokyo 2020 organising committee to receive sports entry forms submitted by the National Paralympic Committee (NPC).

The counsel had urged the high court to list the matter on an early date, however, the bench had said the petitioner should have approached the court a little earlier and not at the last moment.

On July 27, the high court’s single-judge order had said that PCI’s conduct in relation to the selection of another player over Sharma was “unbecoming of a public sporting body” which has to maintain a fair, transparent and inclusionary approach.

The court had, however, refused to interfere with the selection of the other player over Sharma at this belated stage, noting that the shooting team was already in a bubble.

It had however asked the Union Sports Ministry to examine the aspect and take action, if necessary.



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