The Delhi High Court has directed the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to take a call on the selection of the 49er FX sailing team for the Asian Games in Jakarta, following a petition by Varsha Gautham, who had won the silver ahead of sailor Ekta Yadav, selected by the Yachting Association of India (YAI).
While admitting that the failure to include the external selectors from the Union Sports Ministry, Sports Authority of India and the IOA, “does not vitiate the selection process’’, Justice Vibhu Bakhru was categorical in conceding, “this court is certainly not equipped to evaluate the merits of their decision and the same is beyond the scope of judicial review in these proceedings’’.
The claim of Varsha Gautham, with Sweta Shervegar as her crew, was that the selection policy had categorically mentioned that both the Selection regatta in Chennai and the Asian Championship in Jakarta, would form the basis of choosing the team.
“It is apparent from the record - and it is also not disputed – that the selection committee had considered only the Selection Event (Regatta conducted in Chennai) for selecting the sports person to represent India. It is also ex facie apparent that the said criteria was not in conformity with the Selection Policy. Apparently, YAI realised the aforesaid error and the Selection Committee met once again on June 30, to consider the results of the Asian Sailing Championship,’’ the court noted.
It also acknowledged that the selection committee, “was of the view that the performance of Ekta Yadav and Shaila Charles were more consistent’’.
After having selected the team even before the Asian Championship and intimating the concerned sailors, the YAI went ahead and conducted an emergency selection committee meeting on June 30, and validated the selection of Ekta Yadav.
The minutes of that meeting was presented to the High Court. It was also mentioned that the IOA, as the National Olympic Committee of India had the sole and final decision in selecting the athletes for the Asian Games.
“The IOA must consider the results of the Nomination Event (Asian championship) and the minutes of the meeting held on June 30, if not considered earlier. It will be open for the petitioner to move IOA for the said purpose,’’ the judgment read.
Varsha Gautham had won the bronze medal in the last Asian Games in Incheon in the 29er event with Aishwarya Nedunchezhiyan, at the age of 16.
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