The Delhi High Court, on Wednesday afternoon, ordered the Athletics Federation of India's Selection Committee to consider high jumper Tejaswin Shankar for the 2022 Commonwealth Games, on merit.
The high court said Shankar's non-participation in the interstate championship shall not be the sole criteria for rejecting him.
"These are record holders and you don't let them go... He (Shankar) is a medal prospect. Let it not be an ego problem," the court said.
Shankar had filed a writ petition before the Delhi High Court, following his exclusion from the athletics squad for the CWG.
Despite being the sole high jumper to fulfil the Indian qualification benchmark of 2.27m, that he achieved at the NCAA 2022 High Jump event in the US, the AFI refused to let him be a part of this year's CWG contingent.
Earlier, the AFI president had stated in a press conference that Tejaswin missed the National Inter-State competition, the Indian qualification event, without asking for exemption from the governing body. They also mentioned his failure to get a No Objection Certificate before competing in the USA.
"Mr Shankar did not want to be selected. Mr Shankar did not ask to be exempted from the Inter State Championships. He did not take permission from us before he competed in the USA."Adille Sumariwalla, AFI president
As per an Indian Express report, Shankar's legal representative, Malak Bhatt, argued that the omission was random, unlawful and "against national interest".
Bhatt claimed his client deserved an exemption from the AIF, the same way elite athletes like Seema Punia, Neeraj Chopra and Avinash Sable had managed one.
"A potential medal contender for the CWG Games has been arbitrarily excluded, despite meeting the eligibility mark set by the AFI. The decision is further illegal as Tejaswin ought to have been granted the exemption he sought as an elite athlete — in parity with the 3 others (Seema Punia, Neeraj Chopra, Avinash Sable) athletes who were given exemption from the inter-state competition on similar grounds. The current national record holder is being arbitrarily excluded at the whims of AFI and this action is absolutely against national interest."Malak Bhatt, Tejaswin Shankar's lawyer
In the petition to the Delhi High Court, Bhatt wrote national head coach Radhakrishna repeatedly enquired about the status of Tejaswin's visa for the CWG 2022. He even assured the high jumper of getting picked by the selection committee.
"Mr Radhakrishnan had on 11.06.2022 intimated the Petitioner via WhatsApp that he would be considered by the Selection Committee based on his 2.27m jump at the NCAA Track and Field Outdoor Championship 2022 and repeatedly inquired about the status of the Petitioner’s visa for the CWG 2022," the appeal explained.
Earlier this month, the 23-year-old finished his collegiate career with a gold in the NCAA Men's High Jump title. His best jump of the season was 2.27m, breaching the CWG 2022 qualification mark set by the AFI.
In a showdown between Darius Carbin, the silver medalist and Shankar, both the high jumpers committed three fouls and missed an even number of chances before a jump off between the two at the same height. The Indian record holder jumped over the bar and emerged victorious at the Hayward Field, USA.