Weightlifter Sanjita Chanu, a gold medallist at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games in the 48-kg category, has filed a writ petition against the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs before the Delhi High Court following her exclusion from the list of Arjuna awardees this year. In the writ petition, Chanu has mentioned that she has not been included in the list of Arjuna awardees for two successive years despite ‘better achievements’ and ‘higher qualification marks’ than those who have been chosen. The writ petition came before Justice Vibhu Bakhru who has directed the ministry to file the minutes of the meeting of the Arjuna awards selection committee on Friday in order to find the reasoning for the exclusion of the 23-year-old. The legal firm Phalpher and Goswami represented the weightlifter in court.
“Under the scheme of the Arjuna awards given by the ministry there is a points system. In Chanu’s case, she had got 45 points. She is a Commonwealth Games 2014 (Glasgow) gold medallist for which she earns 30 points and another gold at the Commonwealth Senior Women Weightlifting Championships in 2015 for which she is eligible for 15 points. Totally she has 45 points. Sportspersons who have not even silver or bronze in CWG 2014 have got the Arjuna award,” her lawyer Hemant Raj Phalper said. While Chanu has not been considered for the award, another gold medallist from the 2014 CWG, Sathish Sivalingam (77kg) was conferred the Arjuna award the next year. Chanu had been nominated for the award by the Indian Weightlifting Federation even in 2016 but was ignored for the award.
According to an RTI reply obtained by Chanu’s lawyers, the minutes of the meeting from last year show that she had obtained 32.8 points based on the weightage while another sportsperson — a women’s hockey player — who had obtained just 8.41 points was conferred the award. In all, four sportspersons who received less points than Chanu were handed the award last year. Weightlifting Federation of India vice-president Sahdev Yadav confirmed that Chanu’s name had been nominated in 2016 and 2017. This is not the first time an athlete has taken legal recourse after being overlooked for the award. In 2015, boxer Manoj Kumar had approached the Delhi High Court. He was given the award after it came to light that he was mistaken for a namesake who had failed a dope test.