Boxer challenges Sports Ministry over mistaken identity

By Manali Kulkarni

On August 12, the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports’,1 Arjuna Award Selection Committee (“Committee”)2 did not include Indian boxer, Manoj Kumar, on their final list for the Arjuna Award, a sports scholarship for outstanding achievement on an international level. 

However, it appears that the exclusion resulted from the Committee mistaking Kumar for another boxer with the same name who was suspended for doping charges.3

As of August 14, 2014, the Selection Committee stated that it would reconsider Manoj Kumar, the boxer without a doping record, for the Arjuna Award at its meeting on August 19.4

However, after reevaluating Manoj’s qualifications for the Arjuna Award, the Committee still decided not to include him on the list for Arjuna awardees, and did not make any changes to the original 15 athletes on the list, abiding by Article 10 of the Scheme for the Arjuna Awards (the "Scheme"),5 which states that, in most instances, only 15 athletes should be nominated.6

Kumar responded by stating that he will be filing a case against the Committee for its action. From Kumar’s statements, it appears that the sports secretary and Jiji Thomson - the Sports Authority of India (SAI)7 director general - told Kumar’s brother, Rajesh Kumar, that Manoj Kumar’s name would be added to the list.8

Rajesh Kumar has confirmed that a case will be filed in the High Court of Punjab and Haryana in Chandigarh.9 He planned to file a right to information (RTI) application last week then file the case at the High Court.10

For evidence, Rajesh Kumar explained that he will ask for the points Kumar earned and the points the other 15 athletes on the Arjuna Award selection list earned. The points are used to assess who is qualified to be on the Arjuna Award list.11

Kumar earned 32 points, which were the most among all other nominees for the Arjuna Award. Thomson explained that the Committee wanted to select “one athlete per discipline” and thought Jai Bhagwan, at 30 points12, was more deserving in Indian boxing.13

Article 11 of  “Criteria for giving Arjuna award to Sports persons” of the Scheme permits the Committee to use its discretion when awarding the Arjuna Award, regardless of a “very deserving” candidate.14 The point allocation system per athletes is outlined under “Criteria for giving Arjuna award to Sports Persons” of the Scheme.15

As of Tuesday, August 26, 2014, the High Court of Delhi16 announced that Kumar’s case against the Committee will be heard on Thursday, August 28, 2014.17

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About the Author

Manali Kulkarni

Manali Kulkarni

Manali is currently a second year (2L) JD Candidate at the University of Maine School of Law. She was previously the COO at LawInSport and continues to be an executive contributor of the editorial board for LawInSport. She holds an LLM in Sports Law from Nottingham Law School (Nottingham Trent University). During the fall of her second year in Portland, Maine, Manali also had the opportunity to be the legal intern at Global Sports Advocates.

Manali previously researched on sports and society in India, specifically focusing on the influence of sport on the gender divide in India. She joined LawInSport in September 2013 as a research assistant providing updates on Indian sports law. She is currently back in her hometown, Memphis, Tennessee, for a visiting semester at the University of Memphis School of Law.

Get in touch with Manali on LinkedIn or Twitter.

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