Delhi HC puts interim stay on Table Tennis Fed's rule of mandating players to attend national camp for selection in international events

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New Delhi [India], September 23 (ANI): Delhi High Court on Thursday put an interim stay on Table Tennis Federation of India's new rules that made it compulsory for players to attend a national camp for selection in international events, till the next date of hearing on October 28.

Hearing Table Tennis player Manika Batra's plea, Justice Rekha Palli told the Centre to also consider if any further scrutiny into affairs of the federation is required while conducting an enquiry. The Court directed that the enquiry be held within a period of four weeks and to place its report before the High Court.

The Court also made it clear that fair opportunity should be given to national coach Soumyadeep Roy. However, a detailed order of the matter will be made available later.

The Centre on Thursday told the Delhi High Court that merit has to be the sole criteria for selection of candidates while supporting the claim of table tennis player Manika Batra that no one should be barred due to not attending national camp.

The Centre also submitted that it will conduct an independent enquiry into allegations made by TT player Batra.

Appearing for Centre, Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma, told the Delhi HC that "merit was, merit is, merit shall and merit has to be the sole criteria for selection of candidates" and that attending or not attending a camp will not deter India from sending its best athlete forward.

"There is nothing in the Sports Code, which permits them to bar a candidate and to say that if you do not attend a camp, you will be left out," Centre counsel submitted.

Table Tennis player Manika Batra has filed a plea against the Table Tennis Federation of India's decision not to take her in the Asian championship squad.

The Court has expressed anguish with the Table Tennis Federation on framing of the rules and said what was the hurry of making these new rules.

Senior Advocate Sachin Dutta, appearing for the petitioner Batra, told the Court about a past incident that how national coach Roy has pressurised the Petitioner to throw away a match only with a view to help one of his trainees at his private academy to qualify for the Olympics, 2020. He also raised apprehension on the conduct of Roy.

Earlier, the Court noted that Manika Batra is the highest-ranking player.

Batra, an Indian Table Tennis player of international repute, ranked 56th in the world and the highest-ranked Indian Women player internationally.

She filed a petition on account of the omissions and commissions of the Respondent The Table Tennis Federation of India and issuing the Rules and Regulations for National Camps dated August 4, 2021, which she said are exfacie, arbitrary, capricious and unsustainable.

"In spite of the Petitioner having brought laurels to the country, as recently during the Tokyo Olympics, 2020, she has been left out of the contingent being sent for the 25th ITTF Asian Table Tennis Championships, 2021 to be held in Doha from September 28, 2021, to October 4, 2021," the petitioner said.

Advocate Apoorv Kurup was representing the Centre in the matter while Senior Advocate Sachin Dutta and lawyer Akshay Amritanshu were appearing for petitioner Batra.

The petitioner Batra said that the background facts leading to the issuance of Rules and Regulations dated August 4, 2021 are that the Respondent Soumyadeep Roy had earlier sought out the Petitioner and pressurised her to sign a letter written to the Respondent Centre, recommending Roy's name as the National coach of the Table Tennis contingent to represent India in the Summer Olympics, 2020. The Petitioner was sent a draft recommendation letter by Respondent Roy himself, which she politely refused to sign.

After the conclusion of the Olympics, the Federation issued Rules and Regulations dated August 4, 2021, which Batra received on August 27, informing her that attending of National Coaching Camp is compulsory, failing which she would not be selected for any upcoming international event.

"Table Tennis is an individual sport, which requires specialised training with support staff. Only the personal coach would know the strengths, weaknesses, skills and areas which a player should focus and strengthen. However, these Rules do not permit any personal coach/support staff. Therefore, the Rules of 04.08.2021 are arbitrary, irrational, absurd and have no nexus with achieving excellence in an individualised sport, such as table tennis," the petitioner said.

A player undergoing training with her support staff would be severely prejudiced and her performance would be seriously affected if the Rules are not quashed, the petitioner urged.

Therefore, petitioner Batra has urged the Delhi High Court to grant an ad-interim ex-parte order staying the operation of the impugned rules and regulations dated August 4.

She also sought direction from authorities concerned to include her name in the contingent representing India at the Asian Table Tennis Championship to be held at Doha from September 28 to October 5.

She also sought direction from Union of India through the Ministry of Youth Affairs to enquire into the management of the Federation, conduct of Roy and other officials of TTFI, under the supervision of this Court. (ANI)

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