Manika Batra vs TTFI- A timeline of the controversy where Manika won the case
We bring you a concise timeline of events that transpired between paddler Manika Batra and the TTFI, in the aftermath of the Tokyo Olympics.
The world of sport is rife with controversies. And the recent participant of one is star table tennis player Manika Batra. The athlete was in a tiff with the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) over her refusal to be under the guidance of national coach Soumyadeep Roy. Later, Batra had come out with allegations against the coach which furthered this row between the organization and the player.
The court has now found the Indian table tennis coach Soumyadeep guilty of match-fixing.
Here's the timeline of how the events rolled out:
- 20th August, 2021: TTFI issues show-cause notice to Manika Batra
It all started in early August with the TTFI sending Manika Batra a show-cause notice to explain her decision of not taking coach Roy's help during the Tokyo Olympics. At the Tokyo event, Manika played phenomenally, sans a coach by her side and even made it till Round 3, before losing to Sofia Polcanova, 4-0. The current World No 56 had decided to take her personal coach, Sanmay Paranjape, with her but unfortunately, he was not allowed to be in the match arena. Despite promising stern action, the table tennis body took quite some time to present the notice to the national player on the grounds of apparent "technical glitches".
- 3rd September, 2021: Manika Batra replies to show-cause; alleges National Coach Soumyadeep Roy of match-fixing
Within two weeks, the paddler replied to the show-cause notice with serious allegations of match-fixing against national coach Soumyadeep Roy. She alleged that Roy had asked her to throw away matches during the Olympic qualifiers. Batra has clearly stated that she has the necessary proof and evidence to corroborate her side of the story. According to her, Roy had called her to his hotel room where he tried to convince Batra to throw the match for the benefit of his student. The student referred here is Sutirtha Mukherjee who also took part in the Tokyo games where she bowed out in the second round.
Roy, a Commonwealth Games gold medallist and an Arjuna Awardee, is still yet to present his side of the story. He was also not allowed to attend the national camp that took place in the first weeks of September at Sonepat, ending on the 15th of this month, in the run-up to the biennial Asian Table Tennis Championships.
- 31st August and 6th September, 2021 - TTFI mails Manika Batra, asking for a confirmation to attend the National Camp
Originally, TTFI had kept the 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medallist's name in the squad for the Asian Championships and had sent in two e-mails asking her to confirm her presence at the pre-tournament National Camp. The second mail mentioned, "If you are not joining the camp then you will not be considered for the Asian championships." However, Manika did not respond to the emails.
- 15th September, 2021 - Manika Batra left out of the Asian TT Championships squad
With Batra's lack of response to the mails and absence from the camp, the TTFI decided to rule out Manika Batra as they found her ineligible for selection for the upcoming continental event.
- 17th September, 2021: Manika Batra mails back to the TTFI and asks for her name to be included
Displeased with the action of TTFI to exclude their star player from the tournament, Manika shot back an e-mail and asked to be included in the squad.
- 18th September, 2021: Manika Batra moves the Delhi High Court, files a petition
In a recent turn of events, the Delhi High Court has asked the central government to step in in the light of Manika Batra's petition. The player has been left out of the national contingent for the upcoming Asian Championships on the grounds of being absent from the national camp that ended about a week ago. Batra, through her petition, questions the arbitrary rule of mandatory presence in the camp in order to be selected for the championship and also pleads her case to be included in the contingent.
- 23 September, 2021: Court gives TTFI four weeks to enquire on match-fixing allegations
The court stays on TTFI's rule on mandatory national camp attendance for international tournament selection. The court gives TFFI four weeks time to investigate the match-fixing allegations by Manika and submit its report. The HC expresses its displeasure on TTFI's hurried decision to chop and change its enquiry panel within 10 days of constituting it."They are overreaching the court. I will issue a notice of contempt. I pass an order and you appoint a new person? This is shocking," Justice Palli said.
- November 17, 2021: Delhi HC appoints three-member enquiry committee to look into match-fixing allegations
The three members appointed by the Delhi HC to investigate Manika's match-fixing allegations include - Justice Vikramjit Sen and Justice AK Sikri and former athlete Gurbachan Singh Radhawa. The TTFI council also informs the court that they have recalled its show-cause notice against Manika and calling off any further action against her.
- February 11, 2021: Court suspends TTFI's executive committee and orders appointment of an administrator
The HC said the TTFI's conduct "prima facie" appears to be blameworthy. As per the reports by the three-member committee, the federation has only been safeguarding the interest of its officials. "The fact that the court has appointed an administrator and called into question the clear conflict of interest by the coach in question, it's without a doubt that Manika's plea has been upheld and merit has been found in her allegations," Manika's lawyer Akshay Amritanshu said. The Court expects ITTF to take appropriate actions as per the committee's reports.