HC asks Centre to conduct inquiry into allegations against TT body by Manika Batra

New Delhi, Sep 23 (PTI): The Delhi High Court Thursday stayed the Table Tennis Federation of India’s mandate on compulsory attendance at the National Coaching Camp in order to be selected for any upcoming international event and asked the Centre to conduct an inquiry into Manika Batra’s complaint against the sports body.
Justice Rekha Palli further said that if warranted, the Union Sports Ministry may look into the affairs of the TTFI as well.
Justice Palli was hearing a plea by Batra who was left out of the Indian contingent for the upcoming Asian Table Tennis Championships and has alleged that the national coach Soumyadeep Roy pressurized her to throw away an Olympic qualifier match in favour of one of his personal trainees.
The judge said the rule mandating compulsory attendance at the national camp has been enforced at a point when there was a complaint pending against the national coach and the same does not inspire confidence. The court also expressed anguish at the manner in which a committee, constituted by the federation to look into the allegations, was reconstituted after it sought centre’s stand on the issue.
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… I am expressing my anguish, the judge stated.
I am of the view that the operation of the rule is required to the stayed till the next date of hearing. Respondent No. 2 (Sports Ministry)…is itself inclined to hold an inquiry into the serious allegations by the petitioner. There is no reason why respondent No 1 (federation) should continue with its rule, she ordered. Respondent No 2 will proceed to hold an inquiry at the earliest…furnish a copy of the report to the court, it was added.
The court clarified that at this stage, it was not appointing any committee to look into the issues and directed that the Centre’s inquiry report be placed before it in four weeks.
It added that the centre may seek the stand of the national coach and also issued notice on the petition, which was listed for further hearing on October 28.
Senior counsel Sachin Dutta, appearing for Batra, said his client was not desirous of participating in the upcoming Asian Table Tennis Championships.
Some (tournaments) are starting from October 24 and world championship is in November. The event (Asian Table Tennis Championship) is next week and training happens in Pune, he said.
Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma, representing the Centre, stated that the federation’s rule on compulsorily attending the national camp was in the teeth of the sports code and defeated merit.
He informed that the centre would initiate an inquiry into the athlete’s allegation.
Advocate Hrishikesh Baruah, representing TTFI, defended the rule and stated that such a mandate was present on other sports as well including weight lifting and judo.
The lawyer clarified that his client had no say on grant of access to a venue to Batra’s personal coach and physiotherapist at any sporting event.
He argued that the federation has no problem with holding a fair inquiry into Batra’s allegations and that claimed that the national coach was not even present at the national camp which she refused to attend.
Maybe I will agree with you (at a later stage). Today, holistically, I am not with you, the court stated.

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