Manika Batra petition: On Monday, Delhi High Court sought the Centre's stand on a petition by table tennis player Manika Batra.
Batra was left out of the Indian contingent for the upcoming Asian Table Tennis Championships. This is because of the Table Tennis Federation of India's (TTFI) mandate that one must be compulsorily present at the National Coaching Camp to be selected.
Delhi High Court asks Central Govt's counsel to take instruction on the petition by table tennis player Manika Batra against the Table Tennis Federation of India for dropping her name for Asian Championship. The court lists the matter for further hearing on Sept 22.— ANI (@ANI) September 20, 2021
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High Court Seeks Centre's stand on Manika Batra petition
Justice Rekha Palli granted two days to the central government counsel to take instructions on the petition which alleged national coach Soumyadeep Roy of "pressurising" Batra to "throw away a match". This would have reportedly enabled one of his trainees to qualify for the Olympics 2020. The petition also sought the Sports Ministry to enquire into the federation's management.
The judge said that serious allegations have been levelled at the coach and that the Centre should be a proactive responding. She also said that they must wait for the centre to come back with instructions. Referring to Batra, Justice Palli continued, "Ultimately she is the highest-ranking player in the country today."
Senior counsel Sachin Dutt appeared for Batra. He said that her chance at the 25th ITTF (International Table Tennis Federation) Asian Table Tennis Championships, 2021 has been scuttled even though she fulfilled all criteria based on merit. It is so because according to rules, one must mandatorily attend the National Coaching Camp to be selected. The event is to be held in Doha, Qatar from September to October. He urged that the court should stay the rule so that she could participate in another international event that will be taking place in November. The counsel for the federation denied all allegations stating that the national coach was not even present during the camp.
The Commonwealth Games gold medallist and Khel Ratna awardee alleged the federation of carrying out the selection processes in a manner believed to be "non-transparent".
What does the Manika Batra petition say?
In the petition, Batra asserted that the national coach was running a private table tennis academy simultaneously, in a clear conflict of interest. Allegedly, he even "pressurised" the petitioner to "throw away a match" to help a trainee at his private academy to qualify for the 2020 Olympics. The plea further alleged that the incident took place on March 17 this year in respect of the match to be held the next day. The match was supposed to take place at the Asian Olympic Qualification Tournament organised by Asian Table Tennis Union. Batra refused to comply. She also informed the TTFI Adviser about it the next day.
The petition said that after the completion of the Olympics, the federation issued rules and regulations dated August 4, which Batra received on August 27. She was informed that attending of National Coaching Camp is compulsory. If she failed to do so, she would not be selected for any future international event.
The plea went on to say that table tennis is an individual sport. It required specialised training with support staff. Therefore, "the rule against personal coaching is arbitrary, irrational, absurd and have no nexus with achieving excellence in an individualised sport." It added that only the personal coach would know the strengths and weaknesses of the player. They also know the areas where the athlete should focus and strengthen. "However, these Rules do not permit any personal coach/support staff," the plea stated.
The matter will be heard next on September 23.