At a time when the judiciary and the Sports Ministry have come down heavily on the National Sports Federations reluctant to comply with the provisions of the National Sports Code, the Delhi High Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) has raked up more issues in the Table Tennis Federation of India than it was entrusted to solve.

After three players moved the Delhi High Court on being ignored as the playing members of the Commonwealth Games squad, the CoA has invited another headache with its choice of the men’s team coach.

In conflict with Justice Rekha Palli’s order of February 11, 2022, that a coach running a personal academy should not be made part of the National team, the CoA has named S. Raman as the coach for the Games. He runs the Raman TT High Performance Centre in Chennai.

It may be recalled, Justice Rekha Palli objected to the TTFI’s appointment of Soumyadeep Roy as the coach to accompany the National teams. She pointed out, the three-member independent Committee that inquired into the working of the TTFI had “ also opined that, the respondent No. 3 (Soumyadeep Roy) having been appointed as a National coach by the respondent No. 1 (TTFI), his continuing to run his personal academy would prima facie amount to conflict of interest .”

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Further, Justice Rekha Palli categorically stated, “ I earnestly hope that this order will act as a wake up call for the Government and all other sports federations to take corrective action in this regard. A person appointed as a national coach by such a federation cannot and ought not to be permitted to simultaneously run his personal academy. A conflict of this nature has to be avoided; our sportspersons surely deserve better.

In fact, on May 12, 2022, in the minutes of the virtual meeting to Review the Ranking Criterion and Selection Guidelines, the CoA stated under 16 (iv): “ It is improper for coaches running Table Tennis academies having coaches who may be up for consideration in National teams, to be part of the selection panel or the selection process in any manner.

However, in the minutes of the video conference held on June 6, 2022, to review the players selected for the Commonwealth Games, the CoA did not realise it was acting in contrast to the above-mentioned 16 (iv) and revealed:

14. The matter has been discussed threadbare with the selectors and as well as Mr. S. Raman and Ms. Anindita Chakkraborty, who were the coaches detailed at the training camp, recently concluded.

While the Selection Committee chairman S. D. Mudgil incommunicado, National champion Sharath Kamal said, “The Court is right in suggesting not to consider coaches running their own academies to be with the National team.

“For instance, my coach, and brother, Rajath Kamal also runs a TT Academy in Chennai. If he was named the coach of the Indian team, I would have been the first to object. Though it would have given me an added advantage, but equally, his appointment would have been very unfair to my other team-mates.”

Sharath made his point and now the puzzled Indian table tennis fraternity awaits the Delhi High Court’s final word.