Manoj Kumar to be reconsidered for Arjuna Award after Central Government intervenesManali Kulkarni
On August 12, Indian boxer, Manoj Kumar, learned that he had not been included1on the awardees’ shortlist for the Arjuna Award, a scholarship for outstanding athletic achievement on an international level (see the Shceme for the Arjuna Awards - ‘the Scheme’).2
It transpired, however, that Kumar was overlooked as a result of an error by the Sports Ministry’s3 Arjuna Awards Selection Committee (the “Committee”),4 who mistook him for a different boxer with the same name previously involved in doping.
After a representation by Kumar, the Committee reconsidered but still chose not to include him, without giving reasons. This was despite, according to Kumar, the Sports Ministry ensuring him he would be included this time round.6
Consequently, Kumar filed a petition against the Committee at the Delhi High Court7 containing two applications: first, asking the Committee’s to reconsider him for the shortlist and seeking a corresponding stay of the Arjuna Award ceremony; and, secondly, to quash the Committee altogether and “reconstituting [it] to include a majority of sportspersons as per the earlier scheme." 8
At the initial hearing on August 26, the Court instructed the Sports Ministry to present details on the Committee’s selection policy and how the shortlist for the Arjuna Award is compiled.9
At the second hearing on August 28, the Court addressed Kumar’s two applications. Regarding the first, the Central Government informed the Court that it will recommend Kumar’s name for the Arjuna Award and that the Sports Ministry “will consider his eligibility for the award” and consider the matter as a fresh case.10 Consequently, the Court dismissed the first application along with the corresponding request to stay the awards ceremony. Regarding the second application to quash the Committee, the Court listed a further hearing for December 17.11
A closer look at how the Arjuna Award shortlist is compiled
According to the Scheme, the Arjuna Award is determined around a points-based system structured around wins and medals (see Criteria for giving Arjuna award to Sports Persons - the “Criteria”).2
It was reported on August 15 that Kumar’s international accomplishments gave him a total of 32 points, the highest among boxers,13 and the additional solicitor general, Sanjay Jain, clarified at the hearing on 26 August that Kumar had the same number of points as Jai Bhagwan, the boxer shortlisted for the Arjuna Award.14
The Scheme does not however guarantee that the Committee will select the player with the highest points in their final list. Rather, paragraph 11 of the Criteria directs the Committee to select the most deserving candidate for each sport.15
Kumar, though, claims that the Sports Ministry had assured him that his name would be on the list,6 so it will be interesting to see the result after his case is heard afresh. Either way, it is apparent the process requires greater clarity and transparency.
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- Tags: Anti-Doping | Arjuna Award Selection Committee | Boxing | Delhi High Court | Governance | India | Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports | Regulation
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About the Author
Manali is the COO at LawInSport and executive contributor of the editorial board for LawInSport. She holds an LLM in Sports Law from Nottingham Law School (Nottingham Trent University).