Delhi High Court suspends TTFI, orders appointment of Administrator

The Court was contemplating instituting an enquiry committee to look into the day-to-day working of the TTFI but later deferred its decision until April 13 when it hears the replies filed by both parties.

Table Tennis bat

REPRESENTATIVE IMAGE: The Delhi High Court observed, “There is a rot in the system and the TTFI was only safeguarding the interest of its officials.”   -  Getty Images

As widely anticipated, the Delhi High Court has suspended the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI).

The order by Justice Rekha Palli came after a three-member enquiry committee submitted its report. On November 17, The Court appointed the committee to look into TTFI’s handling of the match-fixing
allegations made by table tennis player Manika Batra. In September, Manika filed a petition after TTFI issued a show-cause notice to her on August 20.

At one stage, the Court was contemplating instituting an enquiry committee to look into the day-to-day working of the TTFI but later deferred its decision until April 13 when it hears the replies filed by both parties.

“It’s a very sorry state of affairs. The Court is appalled to note some of the observations made by the committee regarding the manner in which the TTFI and the National coach Soumyadeep Roy have been
functioning. The petitioner (Manika) has pointed out that the TTFI was dictating terms to the players, who have struggled to reach this position and brought laurels to the country.”

During the previous hearings, the Court deferred the decision to appoint an Administrator. “But after pursuing the Committee’s report, if an Administrator is not appointed, the Court shall be failing in its duties. After all, the people of this country take pride in the achievements of their sportspersons. Thereafter, it is in the fitness of things that necessary action was taken since conduct of the TTFI is prima facie blameworthy as per the report received by this Court.”

Further, the Court observed, “There is a rot in the system and the TTFI was only safeguarding the interest of its officials.”

It was also a day when the Court took a very serious view of former Tamil Nadu player N. Arul Selvi’s text messages to Manika and her remarks on the working of the judiciary. After a teary-eyed Selvi apologised profusely, the Court relented and did not hold her in contempt. Eventually, Selvi was let off with a stern caution.

Mr. Sachin Datta wanted the Court to direct the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) to consider the findings of the Committee and the Friday’s order (mainly the appointment of the Administration) during its ongoing enquiry into Manika’s allegations of pressure from Soumyadeep Roy to under-perform during the Olympic Qualifying tournament in Doha in March.

But the Court made it clear that it could share the report with the ITTF but not issue any directive in the matter.

The Court also ordered that the upcoming domestic tournaments, including the National championship at Shillong, be conducted under the supervision of the court-appointed Administrator, with the TTFI raising the necessary funds to meet the expenditure.

The members of the executive committee should help the Administrator. “After all, these members are only suspended. They should carry on by cooperating with the Administrator,” was the directive from the Court.

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