Refusing to interfere with the exemption granted to top Vinesh Phogat and Bajrang Punia from Asian Games trials, Justice Subramonium Prasad dismissed the petition by Under-20 World Champion Antim Panghal and Under-23 Asian Champion Sujeet Kalkal against the direct entry allowed to the duo to participate in the tournament.
“The unanimous decision taken by the committee on 12.07.2023 not to expose respondents, who have been termed as elite athletes, to injuries during trials cannot be said to be arbitrary or perverse. It is nobody’s case that (Punia and Phogat) are not well known in their respective categories. In fact, both the athletes are in the World Top 10 rankings and, therefore, the categorisation of these athletes as elite athletes also cannot be said to be perverse or arbitrary,” the HC observed. The HC reiterated that court’s can’t “substitute their opinions to the opinions arrived at by the experts unless the court is satisfied that the decision taken by the experts is perverse or illegal. The function of the Court is only to see that the decision has been arrived at in a good faith and the experts have acted reasonably. It is not the function of the courts to sit in judgment over the decision arrived at by the experts”.
Justice Prasad highlighted that the decision of the ad-hoc committee, which comprises experts in the field of wrestling, to exempt the elite athletes from selection trials is not just to prevent them from suffering any injury in the selection process but also due to their past performances in the world events.