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Delhi HC issues notice on wrestlers’ plea against WFI elections

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New Delhi, March 4: The Delhi High Court on Monday issued notice on petition by wrestlers Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik, and her husband Satyawart Kadian, seeking to annul and declare the recent Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) elections as illegal for violating the Sports Code.

Justice Sachin Datta, who heard the case, sought a response from the Centre through the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports, the WFI and the federation’s Ad-Hoc Committee.

As Centre’s counsel sought time to seek instructions in the matter, the court listed the case for next hearing on March 7.

The petition argues that the elections conducted on December 21, 2023 were conducted in disregard of the Sports Code, and are urging the WFI to halt any activities related to the sport until the matter is resolved.

Citing the broader implications of the WFI’s actions, the petition notes that many athletes beyond the petitioners have suffered due to the federation’s practices, allegedly under the influence of its former President Brij Bhushan Singh.

Notably, the wrestlers were actively involved in the protest last year at Jantar Mantar, which called for the arrest of the then WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh over allegations of sexual harassment against several female grapplers.

The plea now accuses the WFI of attempting to silence and sideline protesting athletes, impacting their international participation prospects. Moreover, the petition calls for the Ad-Hoc committee to continue managing the WFI’s daily affairs or, alternatively, for the appointment of a retired Supreme Court judge to oversee the federation’s management.

The wrestlers have labelled the WFI a “habitual offender” for consistently ignoring directives from the Sports Ministry and the ad-hoc committee, actions they claim have significantly hindered the career growth of Indian wrestlers. Despite the Sports Ministry’s directive for the WFI to cease its management functions and refrain from conducting trials or national events, the federation allegedly persisted in organising unauthorised trials and events.

The petition seeks for the court to invalidate the December 21 elections, labelling them as fundamentally flawed and conducted in stark violation of the Sports Code.

IANS

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