HC to Centre: Include Chitra in World Athletics C’ships

Justice P.B. Suresh Kumar, in an interim order, directed the Government to make all arrangements to see that Chitra participates in the event.

India's P.U. Chitra celebrates after winning the women's 1,500m gold in the 22nd Asian Athletics Championship 2017 at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar.   -  Biswaranjan Rout

The Kerala High Court today directed the Central government to ensure participation of P.U. 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. The court, on Thursday, sought an explanation from the Central government on the exclusion of the Kerala athlete from the Indian squad for the championships.

Hearing Chitra's petition against the decision by the Athletics Federation of India (AFI), Justice Suresh Kumar had asked the Centre to inform the source of funding for international events.

Chitra, who had recently won a gold in the women's 1500m event in the Asian Athletics Championships in Bhubaneswar, 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.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had backed Chitra and 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".

Former national champion P.T. Usha had said that Chitra had not been included in the team as she did not meet the qualifying mark set by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).