The Delhi High court has asked the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sport (MYAS) to ensure fairness in the selection of athletes, after World Youth champion boxer, Arundhati Choudhary, approached the court due to being denied a chance to compete for the Indian team for the women's world championships.
The 20-year-old Choudhary is seeking a trial against Olympic bronze medalist Lovlina Borgohain, in order to represent India in the 70kg division at the AIBA Women's World championships to be held in Turkey.
"The court has asked the sports ministry why an athlete has to come to the court for justice in such cases and has asked it to take necessary measures to select the best boxer for the world championships," Sandeep Lamba, lawyer for Arundhati Choudhary, told ESPN.
Lamba also noted that the court had questioned the Boxing Federation of India's selection policy. In response, BFI stated that Choudhary had been named as a reserve player in the 70kg weight division. Lamba pointed out that no previous mention of reserve status had been made by the BFI. "They gave the court a list of boxers and said they have put Arundhati Choudhary in the reserve. But when she had put in a request for the trial, there was no such list or she was never informed of anything like this," Lamba said.
It's understood that the court has now asked BFI and other respondents (Sports Authority of India and Sports Ministry) for a reply by November 22 to ensure the best athlete goes to Turkey. Choudhary had first approached the courts after BFI had not responded to her request for a trial against Olympic bronze medalist, Borgohain. The issue began after BFI announced that gold medal winners of last month's national championships would comprise the team for the world championships. However, the federation also announced that an exception had been made for Olympic bronze medalist Borgohain, who competes in the same weight division (70kg) as Choudhary. Borgohain didn't compete at the nationals, and in her absence, the gold medal was won by Choudhary.
After learning that she would not be part of the Indian squad, Choudhary had written a letter to the BFI president. "Sir in my weight category Lovlina Borgohain who had won a bronze Olympic medal. As you are aware Lovlina is out of practice since then and if I have given opportunity for trail (sic) I have real chance of winning medal for India... Sir the very basic of sport is the concept of fairplay and the need to keep proving oneself each and everytime. Even Olympic gold medalist have to fight again to qualify to represent their country. Sir I look for no favours. Just fair play. Whether Lovlina Borgohain or I or any other boxer qualifies after the trail (sic) we can at least sleep at night knowing that every one of the candidates got the best possible opportunity to make India proud at the World boxing championships 2021," Choudhary states in the letter.
Choudhary says that the Federation stopped responding to her calls after she sent the letter, following which, she had to approach the courts.
However while the players and the federation contest the right to be a part of the team, the World Championships themselves have been postponed by several months. In a letter sent to national federations, AIBA stated that the Turkish National Federation had decided to postpone the event until possibly March 2022. The event, originally scheduled to begin on December 4, had been in doubt after a surge of coronavirus cases in Turkey .