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|August 24, 2001||
HC notice to Centre on Arjuna award policy
The Delhi high court on Friday said a stay on the Arjuna awards function on August 29 is not possible, considering its importance, and requested reigning Asian discus throw champion Anil Kumar not to press for it.
But the court issued notices to the Centre and the Sports Authority of India, seeking their replies, within four weeks, on Kumar's petition, challenging the government's policy on the national awards.
Fixing the next hearing of the case to October 18, Justice Mukul Mudgal said the court will hear Kumar's petition, which had raised various other issues related to selection of sportspersons for the prestigious national award and laying down of proper guidelines for the same.
The court also appointed senior advocate Amrender Sharan as amicus curiae (lawyer to assist the court) to plead Kumar's case as he was arguing personally.
As the court asked amicus curiae whether he would like to press the prayer for stay of the award, he said: "The stay cannot be granted at this stage but we will be adding a prayer in the writ for laying down proper guidelines for selection of sportspersons for the Arjuna and other national awards."
Following Sharan's statement, Justice Mudgal said the petitioner would not press for stay of the award.
Kumar, in his petition, alleged that the awards are being manipulated and doled out to undeserving persons. He referred the name of SAI official Rachna Govil as an example of such selection this year.
As the court asked government counsel Upamanyu Hazarika to reply specifically under which rule Rachna Govil, in the capacity of SAI official, was being considered for the Arjuna award, he said: "She is being given the award for her lifetime achievement in promotion of sports."
Not satisfied with the reply of the government counsel, the court said it should clarify in the affidavit whether a sports administrator could be considered for the award.
Kumar, in his writ, said: "The national award policy of the government is vague, incomprehensive, inadequate, and is being manipulated by sports officials with mala fide intention, nepotism and favouritism.
"As a result the awards are being doled out to totally undeserving persons, who can hardly be called to be anywhere near the petitioner (Kumar) in performance."
Stating that his name had not been considered for the past three years for the Arjuna award, Kumar said: "I may be permanently left out of the award forever/or may have to wait for 40 years like Milkha Singh."
Accusing the Department of Youth Affairs and Sports of failing in performing its public duty, the petitioner claimed the list of sportspersons drawn by it for consideration this year, had many names which did not figure even among the top 100 athletes in the country.
"Prima facie it is apparent that the executive is not only indulging in mala fide (acts) but is playing fraud on the honest. The legislators seem to be contributing to the malice instead of helping to resolve the problem," the petition said.
Mail Sports Editor
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