The Delhi High Court has refused to interfere with the decision of the Ad-hoc Committee of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) granting exemption to Vinesh Phogat and Bajrang Punia from the Asian Games trials and dismissed a petition by two well-known wrestlers against their direct entry into the Indian squad for the tournament.

The Bench of Justice Subramonium Prasad observed, “The regulations also makes it clear that for the purpose of selection of Wrestlers for Asian Games, the Selection Committee has the discretion to select iconic players like medallists of Olympic/World Championship without trials provided there is a recommendation by Chief Coach. This discretion is not available for Olympic games and Commonwealth Games...The unanimous decision taken by the Committee on 12.07.2023 not to expose Respondents No.3 & 4, who have been termed as elite athletes, to injuries during trials cannot be said to be arbitrary or perverse”.

Advocate Hrishikesh Baruah appeared for the Petitioners and Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma with Central Government Standing Counsel Anil Soni and Government Pleader Devvrat Yadav appeared for Respondent no 1/Union of India. Senior Advocate Arnab Chaudhary appeared for Respondent no. 2 and Advocate Tushar Giri appeared for Respondents no 3 and 4.

The Petitioners contended that they were practicing for months with the hope of being selected to represent the country in the forthcoming Asian Games. They alleged that Respondents no 3 and 4 were selected without undergoing any trials which was a mandatory rule for participation in the National Coaching Camps/International Competitions and hence the decision of the Ad-hoc committee was arbitrary, unfair and contrary to the WFI Regulations.

The Court observed that the main issue to ascertain was whether the Court should exercise its discretion under Article 226 of the Constitution of India and set aside the decision taken by the Ad-hoc Committee of the WFI in exempting Respondents no. 3 and 4. “It is well settled that writ courts must not substitute their opinions to the opinions arrived at by the experts unless the court is satisfied that the decision taken by the experts is perverse or illegal. The function of the Court is only to see that the decision has been arrived at in a good faith and the experts have acted reasonably. It is not the function of the courts to sit in judgment over the decision arrived at by the experts, if the said decision has been taken in good faith and is not perverse, as it would be risky for the Courts to tread an unknown path while upsetting such decisions”, the Court held while placing reliance on the case of Sushil Kumar v. Union of India & Ors. (2016 SCC OnLine Del 3660).

The Court refrained from commenting upon the merits of the Petitioners and stated that the committee did not act against the interest of the country. In this context, the Court asserted, “​​This Court is not commenting upon the merits of the Petitioners herein who have also excelled in the field of wrestling but this Court is not inclined to sit in appeal over the decision taken by the Committee as the same cannot be said to be arbitrary or perverse…It is neither the contention of the Petitioners nor can it be said that the WFI has acted against the interest of the country or that the decision has been taken because of certain extraneous circumstances or in order to favour anyone”.

Accordingly, the Court dismissed the Petition.

Cause Title: Sujeet And Anr v Union of India And Ors (2023:DHC:5076)

Click here to read/download Judgement