Court slams AFI over CWG selection, gives time till Wednesday for final call

Justice Yashwant Varma, hearing high jumper Tejaswin Shankar’s petition challenging his exclusion from the squad despite meeting the qualifying mark, told the AFI to not pick and choose selection rules arbitrarily.

Uthra Ganesan
The Delhi High Court has given AFI time till Wednesday morning to ‘revisit the issues...’

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday came down heavily on the Athletics Federation of India regarding its team selection for the Commonwealth Games, giving it time till Wednesday morning to ‘revisit the issues that arise’. Justice Yashwant Varma, hearing high jumper Tejaswin Shankar’s petition challenging his exclusion from the squad despite meeting the qualifying mark, told the AFI to not pick and choose selection rules arbitrarily. The AFI has been asked to report to the judge at 10.15 am with its reply on the same. “The court heard the case at length today and went through all the selected names and their achievements threadbare. There are quite a few who have been included despite not achieving the qualifying mark set by AFI itself. There are others who did not participate in the Inter-State meet. The court was firm that the AFI cannot pick and choose application of its rules,” Tejaswin’s counsel Malak Bhatt told Sportstar . The judge, Bhatt added, directed the AFI to either inform its willingness to do it or else “I will be forced to pass it as part of the court order that everyone who has not qualified should be removed and you include all these five additional names that have.”

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Asked about the AFI’s contention that they had sought spots from the Indian Olympic Association for the six additional names, Bhatt said the court refused to be drawn into that. “The court was of the view that it was between the organisers and the IOA and did not have a bearing on the merits of this case, which was about following the AFI’s own selection norms,” he added. The court, while allowing the AFI to exercise discretion in selection, was however clear that the discretion did not extend to applying the rules. “They should include all who qualified and then they can use their discretion to stick to the quota. They cannot be selective with the rules,” Bhatt explained. Among those not qualified are discus thrower Seema Punia and shot-putter Tajinderpal Singh Toor besides javelin thrower Shilpa Rani. Quartermiler Amoj Jacob is also out with injury. Those ignored include, besides Tejaswin, Jeswin Aldrin and marathoners Srinu Bugatha and Anish Thapa.