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Wrestling trials to be held by ad hoc Committee

Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) undertook to withdraw its notice conducting selection trials for the Senior Asian Wrestling Championships 2024 and Asian Olympic Games Qualifier Wrestling Tournament on March 10 and 11 on Thursday, after Delhi high court’s nudge that there cannot be two parallel trials.

Sanjay Singh, Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief(ANI)

The court after taking note of WFIs undertaking directed that the trials for the championships shall proceed in accordance with WFIs Ad Hoc Committee’s February 9 circular calling wrestlers for selection trials for the exact same event and on the same dates and all the eligible candidates shall be allowed to participate in the same.

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“Let the trial by the ad hoc committee go on. Why parallel trials? At least the country will speak in a single voice. Let the trial proposed by the ad hoc committee go on. Instead of country making spectacle of itself, why don’t you bend for now? For now, don’t have spoke in the wheels. Keep your hands off & don’t be a spoilt sport. We’ll find a comprehensive solution. We can’t have 2 parallel trials. Show some sportsmanship. You withdraw your circular.” a bench of justice Sachin Datta said to senior advocate Dayanan Krishnan who appeared for the WFI.

“After some hearing, Mr. Dayan Krishnan, learned senior counsel who seeks to appear for respondent no.2 (through Mr. Sanjay Kumar Singh) submits, on instructions, that without prejudice to his rights and contentions, the circular dated 26.02.2024, filed as Annexure P-26 to the present petition, may be treated as withdrawn. It is directed accordingly. Consequently, there shall be no parallel selection trials, as apprehended in the present application. The selection trials shall proceed as The selection trials shall proceed as per the circular/ press release dated 09.02.2024. Needless to say, the ad-hoc committee shall ensure that all athletes, which are found eligible, are permitted to participate in the trial.” the court said in the order.

The court was dealing with a plea filed by the four wrestlers including Bajrang Punia challenging WFIs February 26 notice, claiming that federation had deliberately issued the notice despite being barred by the union sports ministry from conducting championships and having knowledge of WFI ad hoc committee’s February 9 press release.

The plea also filed by Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik and her husband Satyawart stated that ministry’s January 7 notice was still in operation with the status quo maintained. To be sure, the ministry in the said notice while restraining WFI from conducting competitions had categorically stated that any championships organised by the former’s suspended executive committee would be treated as unsanctioned and unrecognized.

“It is submitted that unless Respondent No. 2 is specifically restrained from conducting such events or issuing any such circulars it will continue to mislead, manipulate, influence, threaten and create undue and unnecessary adversities for the wrestling sportspersons. Two parallel national championships shall result in utmost confusion and disparity amongst contesting athletes leading to multiple qualification entrants for the International Governing bodies,” the plea read.

On Thursday, senior advocate Dayanan Krishnan, had initially submitted that the United World Wrestling (UWW) would neither recognise a team not sent by the elected WFI, nor consider the participation of the wrestlers. He had also assured that the entire trials would be video-graphed and there would be a live telecast. Krishnan had further said that the plea wherein the wrestlers had also sought to declare WFI’s December 21, 2023 elections as illegal was not maintainable since they had not made the successful candidates as parties.

The wrestlers appearing through senior advocate Rahul Mehra submitted that the trials conducted by suspended WFI would be in teeth of the National Sports Code, 2011.

While the union sports ministry appearing through standing counsel Anil Soni suggested that WFI as well as the WFI ad hoc committee should put forth dual suggestions regarding the trials. “Our prime concern is that those medallists should go under the national flag. Our third -party interference is limited,” he said.

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