The Delhi High Court on Monday dismissed Sushil Kumar's plea seeking a selection trial against Narsingh Yadav to determine India's entry in the 74-kilogram freestyle wrestling event at the Rio Olympics. Narsingh had earned India a 74-kilogram quota after his bronze medal-winning performance at the Wrestling World Championships in Las Vegas last September.
Ruling in Narsingh's favour, the court said the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) had conducted a transparent process of selection and that it would not interfere with the federation's jurisdiction. Turning down Sushil's request, Justice Manmohan said that holding trials so close to the Olympics could disturb an athlete mentally, affect his performance and preparation, and carry the risk of an injury.
Sushil's lawyer, Kaushik Moitra, said the battle is far from over, telling ESPN, "We still have our options. We will appeal to the division bench of the Delhi High Court by the end of this week. By not addressing the perversity in the WFI's stand, the court is only perpetuating the malaise. Also, the government's lack of will to enforce the sports code is doing sport in the country no good. We will raise these arguments in our appeal."
With this ruling, the WFI's traditional practice of sending the quota winner for the Olympics stands vindicated for the moment.
Sushil Kumar is a legend. He should go to Rio - to support Nar singh from the sidelines . Will only enhance his stature .
- Abhinav Bindra (@Abhinav_Bindra) June 6, 2016
"The court has dismissed Sushil Kumar's plea," Pramod Kumar, the counsel for Narsingh, said. "This was based on two findings. The first is that the court cannot interfere in the functioning and the rules of the federation, which is an autonomous body. The second is that this plea has come in an advanced stage with only a few months left, and the court believes that a trial may adversely affect the performance and preparation of [the] player."
The court decision, pending appeal, effectively ends the 33-year-old Sushil's hopes of a fourth Olympic appearance. India's most successful individual Olympian, Sushil won a bronze at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and a silver at the London Games. He approached the court on May 16 to seek its intervention and attempted to drum up support across various social media platforms on the issue of the selection trial.
In its last hearing on Thursday, the court had said "there is no statutory mandate" in the national sports code to hold trials, striking out Sushil's primary basis of the argument.
Meanwhile, WFI vice president Raj Singh has been asked to appear before the Delhi High Court on July 29 for perjury proceedings. Raj, who has backed Sushil's demand for a trial, has been accused of falsely stating in his affidavit that he was the chief coach in 1996 when a trial between Pappu Yadav and Kaka Pawar was conducted after the former had won a quota.
Challenging both his claims, the federation said that he was not the chief coach then and that the reason for the trial being conducted was because India had won a wild card, not a quota.