The Kerala High Court directed the central government to ensure participation of PU Chitra in the World Athletics Championships in London next month. Justice P B Suresh Kumar, in an interim order, directed the government to make all arrangements to see that Chitra participates in the event. The court also observed that the selection process for the championship appears to be not transparent and qualified athletes were ignored. The case will be considered on Monday for detailed hearing.
However, with the deadline for submitting entries for the World Championships expiring earlier this week, the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) will have its hands tied when it comes to including Chitra in the team. Chitra, who had recently won a gold in the women’s 1500m event in the Asian Athletics Championships in Bhubaneshwar, filed the writ petition after she was excluded from the Indian squad by the Federation. In her plea, she said her gold medal performance at the Asian Athletics Championships made her an automatic pick for the World Championships.
However, the AFI stated that she was excluded from the team because her performance at the next meet — the Inter State Championships in Guntur — had dipped. The AFI had also highlighted the fact that her gold-medal winning time at the Asian Championships did not match up to the Under-20 national record.
AFI President Adille Sumariwalla said that the lawyers representing the federation have not presented their argument so far. “The honourable Kerala High Court has passed an order. But we have not filed any reply so far, our lawyers are yet to present their arguments in the case. We got the petition (filed by Chitra) at 4pm last evening and some pages were not very clear,” Sumariwalla said.
“Our lawyers expect to present argument in the case on Monday and they will deal with the matter accordingly,” he added. The court had sought an explanation from the central government on the exclusion of the Kerala athlete from the Indian squad for the championships. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said in a Facebook post that excluding the athlete, who was the “pride not only of Kerala, but also the country, from the team for World Athletics Championship, is condemnable”.