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Supreme Court allows paralympian to approach Delhi HC after international committee says slot can’t be given to individual athletes

The matter was listed for compliance today before the bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar and Sanjiv Khanna which disposed of the petition granting liberty to the petitioner to approach the High Court. The matter is urged to be taken expeditiously so that the matter does not become infructuous.

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed Paralympian Naresh Kumar Sharma to approach the Delhi High Court after the Paralympic selection committee informed the Court that the International Committee for the Tokyo Paralympics has rejected the name.

A divisional bench of Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice Sanjiv Khanna disposed of the petition while directing the HC to decide the petition as expeditiously as possible. Earlier yesterday, the bench of Justices Khanwilkar, B.R. Gavai and Krishna Murari had directed the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI) to recommend Sharma as an additional participant/additional entry. 

The matter was listed for compliance today before the bench of Justices Khanwilkar and Khanna which disposed of the petition granting liberty to the petitioner to approach the High Court. The matter is urged to be taken expeditiously so that the matter does not become infructuous.

Senior Advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for Sharma, submitted before the Court, “Milords, they are saying that Tokyo has rejected the name, I have a suggestion that the matter may be listed before the single bench as she has already heard the matter.”

This comes in the backdrop of the International Paralympic Committee stating that an additional slot cannot be provided since slots are awarded to national paralympic committees and not to individual athletes. Ten slots have been granted to India and no additional slot can be granted. Therefore, the question of whether the petitioner would be granted a slot by dislodging another should be seen by the High Court.

Sharma, who had wanted to compete in the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics, had approached the Delhi HC with the grievance that the Selection Committee of PCI had not applied the eligibility criteria correctly. The petitioner had raised the contention that he was duly qualified and one of the candidates was wrongly considered by taking into account the Serbian Grand Prix that was not recognized. Further, he was discriminated against on account of his raising voices against irregularities, corruption, malpractice and misappropriation of funds of PCI. It was contended on behalf of PCI that it has the interests of the nation in mind.

Earlier, the High Court had refused to interfere with the selection at a belated stage when the shooting team had already been placed in a bubble for the purpose of the Paralympics given the current state of the pandemic. It was observed that PCI had acted in an arbitrary and discriminatory manner and that the conduct was unbecoming of a public sporting body. The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports was directed to examine the issue. 

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