Millennium Post (Kolkata)

Delhi HC seeks response on WFI election dispute

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The Delhi High Court on Monday sought responses from the Centre and the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) on a petition filed by wrestlers Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik and her husband Satyawart Kadian for declaring as illegal the December 2023 elections held by the sports body and setting it aside. Justice Sachin Datta issued notice to the Central government, WFI and ad hoc Committee of WFI on the petition. The court granted time to the central government's standing counsel Anil Soni to get instructio­ns on the matter and listed the plea for further hearing on March 7.

The wrestlers, represente­d through senior advocate Rahul Mehra, were at the forefront of last year's protest at Jantar Mantar here demanding the arrest of former WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh for alleged sexual harassment of seven women grapplers. Senior advocate Dayan Krishnan represente­d the WFI.

The plea contended that the December 21, 2023, WFI elections violated the Sports Code, requesting the federation to cease activities.

Sanjay Kumar Singh, a close associate of Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, was elected as the new president of the WFI during the election.

“The petitioner prays the court may be pleased to set aside and declare elections held by R2/ WFI on December 21, 2023, as illegal and void ab initio since the same has been held in blatant violation of the sports code,” the petition said.

The petitioner­s have accused the WFI of various wrongdoing­s, challengin­g its decision to conduct selection trials for the Senior Asian Wrestling Championsh­ips 2024 and Asian Olympic Games Qualifier Wrestling Tournament against the ad hoc Committee's directives.

“The petitioner­s would like to place on record that apart from them, there are many other athletes/wrestlers who are also facing similar harassment owing to their upright/honest stand against respondent no. 2/WFI and its officials over the illegaliti­es by respondent no.2 in collusion and under instructio­ns of respondent no. 2's/WFI former President and member of Parliament from Kaiserganj constituen­cy namely Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.”

The petitioner­s have urged the ad hoc committee to maintain oversight of the WFI's operations or designate a retired Supreme Court judge as administra­tor. They allege the WFI of recurrentl­y violating directives from the Sports Ministry and the ad hoc committee, negatively impacting Indian wrestlers' career opportunit­ies.

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