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Delhi HC issues notice to Centre, WFI on Bajrang Punia, other wrestlers plea challenging circular to conduct selection trials

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Monday issued notice to the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports and Wrestling Federation of India on a plea moved by Wrestlers Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik, Vines Phogat and Satyawrat Kadiyan challenging WFI circular to conduct selection trials for the Senior Asian Wrestling Championships 2024 and Asian Olympic Games Qualifier Wrestling Tournament.
The bench of Justice Sachin Datta sought the response from all respondents and listed March 7, 2024, for a detailed hearing.
The plea by Wrestlers stated that the suspended Wrestling Federation of India WFI conducting selection trials for the Senior Asian Wrestling Championships 2024 and Asian Olympic Games Qualifier Wrestling Tournament notified through its circular on February 26, 2024, against the directives of the Ad-Hoc Committee for Wrestling Federation of India by Indian Olympic Association and Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports.
The plea alleged that the Petitioners along with numerous other athletes have been selectively targeted and harassed by WFI for being evidently vocal, outspoken and critical over WFI's blatant illegalities and corrupt malpractices including but not limited to allegations of Sexual Harassment by Federation office bearers.
WFI, a National Sports Federation duly recognised by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports held its elections on December 21, 2023. Immediately after the elections, the Ministry issued an order on December 24, abstaining the Executive Committee of WFI from carrying out any activities pertaining to managing and administrating the day-to-day activities of the Federation.
The same order further directed the Indian Olympic Association to constitute an Ad-Hoc Committee to manage and control the affairs of the Wrestling Federation of India including the selection of athletes, making entries for the participation of sportspersons in international events, holding sports activities, etc. with immediate effect, until further orders.
The plea further stated that despite clear directions to WFI by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports and Olympic Association of India, the incumbent executive body of WFI had always acted illegally and overstepped the directives against the principles of National Sports Development Code-2011, r/w Judgment passed August 16, 2022, and contrary to the interest of wrestling athletes.
Petitioners seek direction to Ad- hoc committee to continue administering the day-to-day affairs and management of WFI or in the alternative Appoint an Administrator who is preferable a Retd. Judge of the Supreme Court or a Retd. Judge of the High Court to take over the affairs and management of the WFI to ensure that the Olympic Association of India follows a time-bound proposed road map to restructure and reconstitute Respondent WFI.

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