The Delhi High Court on Thursday asked the ad-hoc panel responsible for the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) affairs to clarify the reasons behind exempting wrestlers Vinesh Phogat and Bajrang Punia from the Asian Games trials.
This came after a petition by Under-20 World Champion Antim Panghal and Under-23 Asian Champion Sujeet Kalkal, who challenged the direct entry given to Phogat and Punia.
Justice Subramonium Prasad asked the WFI to present their response during the day and said that if the selection basis is fair and reasonable, there would be no issue. The court asked about the laurels earned by the two selected players.
It is the petitioners' case that there should be a trial for the selection process rather than solely relying on past performance.
The Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma, representing the Centre, submitted before the court that the selection policy allows for exemptions for certain players, particularly 'iconic athletes' such as Olympic/World Championship medalists, based on recommendations from the Chief Coach/Foreign Expert.
However, the petitioners' counsel contended that the selection of Phogat and Punia did not adhere to the exemption policy mentioned by the WFI.
Phogat and Punia were directly selected for the Asian Games by the Indian Olympic Association's ad-hoc committee, while other wrestlers were required to compete in selection trials on July 22 and 23 to secure their spots in the Indian squad.
Panghal and Kalkal have demanded a fair selection process for the two categories (men's freestyle 65kg and women's 53kg) and sought to set aside the directive issued by the IOA ad-hoc committee granting exemptions to Phogat and Punia.
The court has now listed the matter for July 21.