The Delhi High Court on Thursday Delhi slammed the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) on its functioning, and ordered an inquiry into the conduct of the coach who pressurised Manika Batra, the highest ranked Indian Womens Table Tennis player to throw away a match at Tokyo Olympics.
The Single Judge bench stayed the operation of “Rules and Regulations for National Camp” dated August 4, 2021 issued by Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI), till the next date of hearing.
A plea was filed by Manika Batra, the highest ranked Indian Womens Table Tennis player internationally, in the Delhi High Court, seeking inclusion in the contingent representing India at the Asian Table Tennis Championship to be held at Doha from September 28, 2021, amongst other reliefs.
A single-judge bench of Justice Palli slammed TTFI stating, she was shocked with the conduct of the Federation and also suggesting that the Centre should suspend this sort of a committee.
Justice Rekha Palli also directed the Central Government to submit the report of an inquiry, on the conduct of Soumyadeep Roy, who had allegedly pressurised Batra to throw away a match, within 4 weeks. The court also directed the Centre to look into the conduct of TTFI, in order to see if an inquiry was warranted against them.
Senior Advocate Sachin Datta appearing for Batra stated, she would be better off, preparing for the next tournament.
The plea further sought: 1. Quashing the Rules and Regulations titled as “Rules and Regulations for National Camp” dated August 4, 2021 issued by Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI).
2. directing the Union of India through Ministry of Youth Affairs to inquire into the management of TTFI, conduct of Soumyadeep Roy and other officials of TTFI.
ASG Chetan Sharma appearing for the Centre submitted, merit is the only criteria for representing India and attending a camp is not a pre-cursor for playing for India. He added, there is no provision in the Sports Code that supports the conduct of TTFI.
On the prayer of Manika Batra seeking an enquiry into the management of TTFI, conduct of Soumyadeep Roy and other officials of TTFI, ASG Sharma informed the court, Centre would appoint a committee to look in to the same.
Senior Advocate Sachin Datta appearing on behalf of Manika Batra submitted, Batra’s Coach although was present at Tokyo during the Olympics, but was not granted venue access, forcing Batra to compete alone. He added, the job of a coach in Table Tennis is to device strategies to overcome the opponent and instead of allowing her coach who has helped her reach her current rank, Batra was being compelled to take coaching from Roy, who has asked her to throw away her match.
Senior Advocate Datta pointed out that most athletes selected for Asian Table Tennis Championship attended the camp, only for a few days, but were selected for the tournament, furthermore he stated TTFI itself had to cut-short the camp, as several snakes were found at the venue.
He further requested the court to look into the possibility of appointment of an administrator to carry out the functions of TTFI.
Advocate Hrishikesh Baruah appearing on behalf of TTFI justified the rules, saying that similar rules were being followed by federations of Archery, Weigh-lifting, Judo and Athletics.
Advocate Baruah further clarified that the federation was not against Batra and wanted her to compete and for the same reason were ready to accommodate her, 4 days after the camp started.
He further clarified that, Soumyadeep Roy, has never been the part of the camp, Batra was expected to attend.
The petition has alleged, that TTFI is carrying out its selection processes in non-transparent manner, targeting certain individuals such as the Petitioner and acting completely contrary to the interest of Sports and Sportspersons.
In the petition Batra has made serious allegations against Soumyadeep Roy, former National Coach, Indian Table Tennis Team. According to the plea, Roy pressurized Batra to throw away a match, only with a view to help one of his trainees at his private academy to qualify for the Olympics, 2020.
The petition avers, post the conclusion of Olympics, TTFI issued Rules and Regulations dated August 4, 2021, informing Batra that attending of National Coaching Camp is compulsory, failing which she would not be selected for any upcoming international event.
The petition claimed, only the personal coach would know the strengths, weakness, skills and areas which a player should focus and strengthen, however, these Rules do not permit any personal coach / support staff.
These latest developments come after the controversy at Tokyo Olympics, where Manika Batra had refused permission to Soumyadeep Roy to sit as her coach, during the singles event.
The petition filed by Advocate Akshay Amritanshu has been listed for further hearing on October 20, 2021./ILNS/SR/KR/SNG