In the Matter of Sujeet v. Union of India, Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat were chosen by the Ad-hoc Committee of the Wrestling Federation of India to represent India in the 65 kg (freestyle men’s category) and 53 kg (women’s wrestling) categories, respectively, at the Asian Games 2023, which will take place in Hangzhou, China. The petitioners filed a writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution to contest this decision.
The petitioners stated that they had been preparing for the Asian Games for several months. They said that their aspirations were dashed by the Ad-hoc Committee of the WFI’s selection of Respondents without trials. They claimed that all weight categories must participate in required selection trials under the WFI Regulations for Selection of Wrestlers for National Coaching Camps and International Competitions. They claimed that the WFI Regulations for Wrestler Selection were broken since the decision to exclude Respondents from trials was arbitrary and unreasonable.
whether the Court should use its power under Article 226 of the Constitution and overturn the Ad-hoc Committee of the WFI’s decision to exclude Respondents from going through the Asian Games selection process.
Observation of the Court
Justice Subramonium Prasad of the Delhi High Court’s Single Judge Bench expressed the opinion that it was not the role of the courts to pass judgement on the expert’s decision if it had been made in good faith and was not perverse because doing so would require them to take a risky uncharted course. The court went on to say that the selection committee had made its decision based on the performances of Respondents in international wrestling competitions and that, in contrast to other sports, wrestling and boxing trials carried a higher risk of player injury.
The Court examined the rules governing the selection of wrestlers for national coaching camps and international competitions, concentrating on developing bench strength and providing exposure for possible medal winners in the following Olympic or Asian Games. Without conducting trials, the Selection Committee might choose legendary players if the Chief Coach recommended them. For the Olympic and Commonwealth Games, this freedom was not accessible. Given that both athletes were well-known in their respective sports and in the World Top 10 rankings, the Court concluded that the unanimous decision not to expose the Respondents, who were regarded as exceptional sportsmen, could not be viewed as being arbitrary or perverse.
The Court determined that the Selection Committee, which was made up of people who had received the Dhyanchand and Dronacharya Awards, had excused the Respondents from the next Asian Games selection trials. In addition to doing trials to establish a bench strength, the committee chose them based on their success in international wrestling competitions. The court argued that since there was a higher danger of harm during trials, the judgement was based on the risks of injury during sports like boxing and wrestling. The Asian Games were starting in two months, and the court recognised that elite athletes had very little recuperation time. As a result, it cannot be said that the choice to exclude Respondents from the selection process was random, capricious, or perverse. The judge rejected the petition.
CASE NAME – Sujeet v. Union of India, W.P. (C) 9593 of 2023