Delhi High Court on Monday sought the Centre’s stand on a petition by Manika Batra, who was left out of the Indian contingent for the upcoming Asian Table Tennis Championships, questioning the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI)’s mandate of compulsory attendance at the national camp in order to be selected.
Justice Rekha Palli granted two days to the central government counsel to take instructions on the petition, which alleges that on one occasion, the national coach, Soumyadeep Roy, “pressurised” Batra to “throw away a match” to enable one of his personal trainees to qualify for the Olympics and seeks that the sports ministry “enquire into the management” of the federation.
The judge said the allegations against the coach were serious and the Centre should be a little proactive.
“There is something to be said. We have a high-ranking player. We have to balance... If there are such allegations against the coach, Union of India has to be a little bit proactive on this,” Justice Palli said. “Let them (Centre) come back with instructions. Ultimately she is the highest-ranking player in the country today.”
Senior counsel Sachin Dutta, appearing for Batra, said that by virtue of a rule on mandatorily attending the national camp, his client’s chance for the 25th ITTF Asian Table Tennis Championships 2021, to be held in Doha in September-October, has been scuttled in spite of her fulfilling all merit-based criteria.
He urged the court to stay the rule to enable her to participate in another international event due in November.
“There is an event in November. This regulation be stayed immediately. It will kill my career,” Dutta said as he highlighted that personal coaching is encouraged in several other sports.
The counsel for the federation denied all allegations and said that the national coach was not even present at the national camp.
In the petition, the Commonwealth Games gold medallist has alleged that the federation was carrying out its selection processes in a non-transparent manner, targeting certain individuals such as herself and acting completely contrary to the interest of sports and sportspersons.