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Court stays Sania's Khel Ratna award following paralympian Girisha's plea

Last updated on: August 26, 2015 18:33 IST

Sania Mirza plays a forehand

IMAGE: Sania Mirza is only the second tennis player to be named for the country’s highest sports honour. Photograph: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

The Karnataka high court found substance in the claim of para-athlete H N Girisha challenging the recommendation of Sania Mirza for the prestigious Khel Ratna award and issued notices to the Sports Ministry and tennis ace on Wednesday.

Justice A S Bopanna, who heard the case on a petition filed by Girisha, directed the respondents to reply to the notice within 15 days.

Sania, who won her first women's doubles Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in June, partnering Switzerland’s Martina Hingis, was recommended for the country's highest sports honour by a government-appointed selection panel.

The Sports Ministry also gave its approval.

The President of India will confer the Khel Ratna, Arjuna, Dronacharya and Dhyan Chand awards to various sportspersons in a ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhawan on August 29.

In Wednesday’s proceedings at the high court, Justice Bopanna sought replies from the respondents as to why Girisha's name was overlooked in favour of Sania, considering the points system being implemented by the central government.

Girisha, a Paralympic Games medallist, said in his plea that he deserved to win the coveted award more than Sania because he is the top contender with 90 points against his name and the tennis star is far behind him as per performance-based points system.

Girisha said Sania's Wimbledon doubles crown cannot be considered for the coveted award as it was not included in the sports events mentioned in the government notification for awarding the Khel Ratna. He said the ministry should consider a sportsperson for the award taking into account performances at the Olympics, Paralympics, Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and World Championships from 2011.

"I deserve to win the top award given to sportspersons. I am a top contender as I garnered 90 points as against Sania, who is not anywhere near in top contenders' list. The award is given to sportspersons based on the performance-based points system," the silver medallist in the 2012 London Paralympics said.

"I understand Sania has won Grand Slam titles but according to ministry notification, only performances at the Olympics, Paralympics, Asiad, Commonwealth Games and World Championships from 2011 will be considered," he added.

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