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Swastika Ghosh vs. Table Tennis Federation of India and Ors. - (High Court of Delhi) (20 Jun 2022)

Scope of judicial review is limited to the deficiency in decision making process and not the decision



The sum and substance of the grievances of the Petitioners is that, their names have not been included in the final selection list by the Selection Committee and the Committee of Administrator despite fulfilling the selection criteria as laid down by the federation. The grievances of the learned counsels for the Petitioners are that, the process of the selection has not been adopted correctly and the persons who have been included in the list or being proposed to be sent to participate in the commonwealth game are much below in the ranking as compared to the petitioners before this Court.

The learned counsel for the Petitioners have also challenged the credentials of the members of the Selection Committee on the ground that some of the members are who either themselves in person or their spouse are running the academy and therefore, they should not entitled to be included in the selection committee. The plea of the Petitioners is that, their names should be included in the names of the panel to be sent for participating in the commonwealth games.

It is a settled proposition that, a mere mistake is not sufficient for this Court to exercise powers under Article 226 of Constitution of India, 1950. A writ can be issued only when there is something more than a mere error/mistake. The court in its writ jurisdiction can interfere only if its decision is illogical or suffers from procedural impropriety or shocks the conscience of the court in the sense that it is in defiance of logic or moral standards. The court cannot clothe itself with the power to make choice and should not substitute its decision over a decision of an expert committee. It may be reiterated that the scope of judicial review is limited to the deficiency in decision making process and not the decision.

The committee of administrators was entrusted with all the powers and duties of functioning of the federation. The committee of administrators has minutely examined the claim of each of the sport person and passed a detailed order while finalising the list, which is under challenge. The power of judicial review in the matters relating to sports can be exercised only if there is an allegation of bad faith. In such matters, the courts should give great credence to the decision of the expert committee and the coaches. If the courts start interfering in the decision of such committees, it would have a drastic inhibiting effect on its functioning.

Though the jurisdiction of the court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India is very wide but it has to be used with circumspection. The names in the present case have been finalised by the Committee of Administrators appointed by this Court in Ms. Manika Batra vs. Table Tennis Federation of India. A bare perusal of the findings of the Committee of Administrators makes it clear that, the Committee has threadbare examined the entire issue and then after taking into account all aspects finalised the names to be sent for participating in the commonwealth games. The Court in the present jurisdiction cannot substitute its own view with the view arrived into by the Committee of Administrators and the Selection Committee.

The Courts do not have any expertise to get into the selection and finalisation of players for participation at the international level. This court is conscious of the fact that any such findings can be interfered with only if there is any perversity or arbitrariness in the findings arrived into by the concerned federation. However, there is no arbitrariness or perversity in the order. Present Court also finds complete absence of any arbitrariness or malafide in the decision arrived at by the Committee of Administrators.

To represent a nation and to participate, perform and excel in the arena of international sports, a player must not only possess physical but great mental and emotional strength and agility. It is thus pivotal that there should be no uncertainty in the minds of the players. Such litigations may disrupt and impact the preparation and performance of the players. There is no substance in the present petitions. Petitions dismissed.


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