Sportsperson Belong To Stadium, Not In Court: Delhi HC Criticizes EFI For Its Asian Games Selection Procedure

Equestrian Federation of India (EFI)

The Delhi High Court criticize the Equestrian Federation of India (EFI) for its selection process for the upcoming Asian Games which is going to held in Hangzhou, China.

A single-judge bench Justice Gaurang Kanth was hearing a petition filed by three equestrians challenging the procedure of selecting candidates for the 19th Asian Games, which will be held from September 23 to October 8, 2023.

The bench observed that a National Sports Federation should prioritise developing the best talent in the country without becoming bogged down by hyper-technicality or personal vendettas against any candidate.

According to Justice Kanth, sportspersons belong to the stadium and not in the corridors of the court.

It went on to say that no one who wants to bring honour to their country should be subjected to mental anguish by the federations and their executives.

As a result of the single bench, three players were able to compete in various international equestrian events, along with other selected candidates, leading up to the Asian Games in order to be considered for a place in the national squad.

The bench further pointed out that EFI failed to produce any papers demonstrating that the new selection criteria (V4/V5) were issued by a lawfully formed Selection Committee in accordance with Article 15 of the EFI Statute.

“It is a proud moment for every Indian citizen to see our Athletes with Tricolour in their hand. The country recognises the years of hard work and dedication put by each Athlete to reach at that stage. The role of National Federations is to ease the difficulties faced by the Athletes and extend the necessary help to them to enable them to better their performances,” the bench noted.

Notwithstanding the inclusion of such preventive procedures, the Court observed that the element of bias and conflict of interest always remains a serious difficulty in the administration of National Federations in Indian sports, as evidenced in the current case. It was also stated that EFI had miserably failed to conduct the first stage of the selection process.

Recognising that there was no time left to carry out the first stage all over again, Justice Kanth stated, “this Court is of the view that the interest of justice would be met if all the equestrians who participated in either of the selection process, i.e. V-3 or V-5 should now get equal opportunity to prove their merit”.

Additionally, it was determined that it is the responsibility of National Sports Federations (NSF) to guarantee that the selection process is fair and transparent, and that the selection criteria are made available to all stakeholders well in advance.


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About the Author: Nunnem Gangte