Asian Games trials exemption to Phogat, Punia: HC to pronounce order on Saturday

 The Delhi High Court on Friday said it will pass an order on July 22 on a challenge to the exemption granted to top wrestlers Vinesh Phogat and Bajrang Punia from Asian Games trials.

Justice Subramonium Prasad reserved verdict on the petition by Under-20 World Champion Antim Panghal and Under-23 Asian Champion Sujeet Kalkal against the direct entry handed to Phogat and Punia.

“The endeavour of the court is not to find who is better. The endeavour is to see whether the process has been followed or not,” the judge said during the proceedings.

Phogat (53kg) and Punia (65kg) were given direct entries for the Asian Games by the Indian Olympic Association’s ad-hoc committee on Tuesday while other wrestlers will have to book their places in the Indian squad through selection trials on July 22 and 23.

Panghal and Kalkal challenged the exemption and demanded a fair selection process for the quadrennial showpiece.

The petition, moved by advocates Hrishikesh Baruah and Akshay Kumar, demanded that the directive issued by the IOA ad-hoc committee with regard to the two categories (men’s free style 65kg and women’s 53kg) be quashed and the exemption granted to Phogat and Punia be set aside.

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Baruah assailed the decision on several grounds, including that the general body of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), had withdrawn the provision for exempting sportspersons in August 2022.

The counsel for the ad-hoc panel running the affairs of the WFI, however, said such a decision is “not in the files” and the court asked him to file an affidavit in support of his stand.

On Thursday, the court had asked the ad-hoc panel running the affairs of the WFI to state before it the reasons for exempting Phogat and Punia from the Asian Games trials.

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