The Delhi High Court has lashed out at the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) in a petition preferred by Olympian table tennis player Manika Batra, who had approached the court seeking inclusion in the contingent representing India at the Asian Table Tennis Championship, which were to be held at Doha from September 28, whilst also seeking the scrutiny of conduct of TTFI in not selecting her for the Asian Championships.
A single-judge bench of Justice Rekha Palli has directed the Ministry of Youth and Sports to file an enquiry report pertaining to the conduct of TTFI officials in not selecting Batra in a sealed cover. At the time of non-selection, Batra was the highest ranked Indian women’s table tennis player and has recently won gold medal in women’s doubles, whilst also winning bronze medal in women’s singles at WTT Contender Lasko.
Senior Advocate Sachin Datta, appearing on behalf of Batra, alleged that the petitioner has been a target of the TTFI just because she has come out against them. He further argued that the petitioner is being treated like an accused, rather than being able to focus on her matches and tournaments, she is being called by the international federation to provide evidence.
Advocate Apoorv Kurup, appearing on behalf of the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports, stated that the enquiry report was ready and placed in sealed cover and was awaiting the court’s instruction upon the manner it is to be served before the court and to the other parties.
Upon this submission, Justice Palli enquired: “Was she given the opportunity to confront the persons who made a statement against her? Because what does natural justice mean?”
Kurup replied by stating that he will go through the report to reply on this point. But all the parties were heard during the enquiry.
Advocate Jinendra Jain, appearing on behalf of TTFI, submitted that that they could make this petition infructuous in two days.
Justice Palli reprimanded Jain for this statement:“What is the purpose of your federation? Do you want to support players or do you want to get into all this?”
The Court has further directed TTFI and the Ministry of Youth and Sports to file an affidavit stating they had not approached the International Table Tennis Federation or had any communication with them after the last date regarding the player and have been directed to file their correspondence with the international body.
The matter has been listed for further hearing on November 15.