The Assam Wrestling Association (AWA) was on Saturday granted membership of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) for which the state body had moved court and got the election of the national federation stayed earlier.
The Indian Olympic Association’s ad-hoc committee for wrestling informed AWA that its application for membership had been accepted with immediate effect.
“Having considered your application, through the powers vested in the ad-hoc committee of WFI, you are granted membership of Wrestling Federation of India with immediate effect,” Bhupender Singh Bajwa, a member of IOA’s ad-hoc committee for wrestling, wrote in a letter to AWA president.
“This decision is subject to the outcome of the case filed by Assam Wrestling Association in the Hon’ble High Court of Gauhati in Case No. WPC (C) / 3757/ 2023,” the letter added.
AWA president Ratul Sharma told PTI that the state body has already completed all membership formalities, including deposit of the prescribed membership dues, and also forwarded names of its representatives to the national body.
“We appreciate this decision of the (IOA) ad-hoc committee as it has undone the grave injustice that was being meted out to the wrestlers of our state for years,” he said.
Sharma also thanked AWA chief patron and Assam Cabinet Minister Pijush Hazarika and senior counsel Devajit Saikia, who had appeared for the Association before the court, for the “positive decision in our favour”.
“We have now become an affiliated unit of the WFI and will have two representatives in the electoral college, for which the names of the AWA president and secretary have been forwarded,” he added.
The AWA had moved the Gauhati High Court with a petition to participate in the WFI election, with the court on June 25 staying the elections scheduled for July 11.
The state association had claimed it was entitled to be an affiliated member of the WFI with voting rights but it was denied recognition by the national federation despite its executive committee having recommended the same on November 15, 2014.
June 25 was the last date to submit the names for the electoral college.
When the matter was again taken up by the High Court on July 17, it had set July 28 as the next date for hearing while continuing with the stay order on the poll process.
The Supreme Court had, however, on July 18 cleared the decks for the WFI elections by staying the Gauhati High Court order after hearing a petition filed by Andhra Pradesh Amateur Wrestling Association.
The apex court had also issued notices to the Union Sports Ministry, the WFI, AWA and others on a plea challenging the June 25 order of the High Court.
Interestingly, WFI held elections in 2015 and 2019 but the Assam association did not approach court then demanding full membership.
The WFI, before being suspended by the Sports Ministry, had set May 7 as the election date.
Sports Minister Anurag Thakur, after his meeting with the protesting wrestlers, had said that the WFI elections will be held by June 30.
The IOA then announced that elections will be held on July 4 but the Returning Officer set July 6 as the new date.
However, after five disaffiliated state bodies staked claim to be eligible for voting, the Returning Officer yet again delayed the elections by five days, setting July 11 as the poll date, which was again deferred due to the High Court order.
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