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Delhi HC asks WFI, Ministry to respond to wrestler's petition

Wrestlers Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat, and Sakshi Malik have filed a petition against WFI accusing them of sidelining them.

Delhi HC asks WFI, Ministry to respond to wrestlers petition

Wrestlers observe Black Day at Jantar Mantar (Bajrang Punia/Twitter)


The Bridge Desk

Updated: 5 March 2024 7:06 AM GMT

The Delhi High Court 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 regarding WFI elections on Monday.

The wrestlers have filed a petition asking the court to declare the December 2023 elections held by the sports body as illegal.

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 WFI elections, held on December 21, 2023, were in blatant violation of the Sports Code and sought a direction to the federation to "cease" from undertaking any activity about the sport of wrestling.

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 wrestlers have accused the WFI of several wrongdoing.

The main grievance of the wrestlers is that WFI is trying to silence and sideline them, impacting their prospects of participating in international events.

"Every possible means have been deployed by respondent no. 2/WFI to muffle the voices of the protesting petitioners and deprive them of any future scope of participation at the international level irrespective of their merit and competence," the petition said.

The petitioners have sought a direction to the ad-hoc committee to continue taking care of the day-to-day affairs and management of the WFI or, in the alternative, appoint a retired Supreme Court judge as an administrator to take over the affairs and management of the body.

The petition claimed the WFI has been a "habitual offender" as it has deliberately flouted directions passed by the Sports Ministry and the ad-hoc committee on multiple occasions, adversely affecting the career prospects of Indian wrestlers.

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