The Delhi High Court on Tuesday asked the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs whether its decision to exclude junior national shooting coach Jaspal Rana from this year’s Dronacharya Award winners’ list can be revisited by the selection committee. Justice Navin Chawla, however, made it clear that this won’t impact this year’s awards ceremony, which takes place on National Sports Day (August 29).
Rana, a multiple Commonwealth Games and Asian Games gold medallist, was passed over by the panel despite having groomed the likes of Manu Bhaker, Saurabh Chaudhary and Anish Bhanwala, all of whom have won multiple international medals in recent times.
The selection panel nominated Vimal Kumar (badminton), Sandeep Gupta (table tennis) and Mohinder Singh Dhillon (athletics) for the annual Dronacharya Award category while Mezban Patel (hockey), Rambir Singh Khokar (kabaddi) and Sanjay Bhardwaj (cricket) were picked for the Dronacharya Award in the lifetime category.
The judge asked Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Maninder Acharya to take instruction on revisiting Rana’s application after it was pointed by lawyer Rahul Mehra, while referring to the ministry’s records, that one Sandeep Gupta was considered for the awards, despite lacking 180 days of coaching to individual sportspersons.
The judge sought to know what exactly happened in the selection process, observing “if you (Rana) are eligible, you will have to get it”. The court’s direction to the sports ministry came after Delhi State Rifle Association, represented by Mehra, pointed at discrepancies in giving marks to Rana. As per the plea, 43-year-old Rana was not nominated for the Dronacharya Award despite meeting all requisite criteria under the scheme notified by the ministry. The ASG, assisted by central government standing counsel Ripudaman Bhardwaj, replied that marking has been done only under three categories – Olympics, Asian Games and Commonwealth Games – and persons who have groomed medallists for the country.
“He (Rana) may have secured the marks, but he was not considered because he has not given 180 days coaching to individual disciples,” the ASG said, adding that several claims had been rejected on this ground itself. Rana’s claim was supported by 2008 Olympic gold medallist Abhinav Bindra, who tweeted his ‘disappointment’ at him missing out on the honour. “I can attribute much of my success to having wonderful coaches. @jaspalrana2806 has earned my respect as one of the best & it is disappointing to see him overlooked for the Dronacharya,” Bindra posted.
“Hope this gives his wards the impetus to train harder & prove the committee wrong at Tokyo2020,” said Bindra, who won the 10m air rifle gold in the Beijing Games.
Kabaddi elections stayed
The Delhi High Court on Tuesday stayed the election for office-bearers of the Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India (AKFI) that was to be held on September 1. Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva passed the interim order and sought response of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports and AKFI on the petition, saying the process can only be initiated by the High Court-appointed administrator, if it holds the poll in compliance of its August 3, 2018 order on age and tenure guidelines. The court listed the matter for further hearing on September 17.
The petition filed by A C Thangavel, a former kabaddi player from Tamil Nadu, has challenged the AKFI’s three orders of August 7, 16 and 17 by which elections were notified by the administrator, electoral roll published and objections raised by him dismissed without assigning any reasons. The petitioner, represented through advocates Rahul Mehra and R Arunadhri Iyer, said these orders were issued contrary to the National Sports Development Code of India, 2011 and the electoral roll had members who were not qualified to be a part of the electoral college.