India No 3 Diya Chitale has filed a writ petition in the Delhi High Court after being passed over for the national table tennis team to compete in the upcoming Commonwealth Games with the Trustees Committee, allegedly selecting a player who does not meet the eligibility criteria.
The Indian Table Tennis Federation is currently run by the court named CoA which is headed by little known former decathlete SD Mudgil.
Chitale’s petition requested a reprieve from selection and his induction into the team under the current selection criteria which would have been circumvented by the selection committee to include Archana Kamath as Manika Batra’s doubles partner. He also wanted the court to revoke the team’s ratification by the Sports Authority of India.
The selection committee opted for the Manika-Archana pair’s world ranking No. 4 doubles, but unlike the professional tennis circuit where there are fixed doubles pairs, the ITTF pro-tour did not such strict and rapid rules. Additionally, with Kamath not playing doubles at the senior nationals, Chitale, through his petition, accused the CoA of “lack of transparency” and allowing a “conflict of interest” case.
“…the selection of Ms. Archana Kamath by Respondent No. 1 also suffers from unfairness and lack of transparency. This is due to the conflict of interest on the part of one of the members of the selection committee for the juniors, namely Mr. Bona Thomas John is the personal trainer of Mrs. Archana Kamath and is therefore capable of unfairly biasing the selection committee’s choices in favor of Mrs. Kamath,” the petition reads.
The existing criteria, which the decathlete-led CoA has described as flawed, gives 50 points to the highest-ranked player in the national rankings and 5 points to No. 10.
For the top 10 internationally ranked Indian players, the highest ranked player gets 30 points and the one who is 10th in the list gets three points. And there are 20 other points, which are at the discretion of the national selection committee and the coach. According to the criteria, one must score 51 points or more to be selected in the team.
As a result, Chitale with his national rank of No. 3 obtained 40 points from these criteria and a full 20 points from selectors and coaches (given to everyone) and another 12 points from his international ranking, bringing his total to 72. .
In Batra’s case, it’s a bit different as she is India’s highest ranked international player who got her 30 points and also a full 20 points from the coaches bringing her total to 50. While the national ranking of Batra is not very important because everyone is aware of his qualities, Kamath, who is second in the international list with 27 points, also got 20 from the coaches, bringing his total to 47, five points from less than Chitale points.
Chitale in his petition called the COA’s actions “unlawful, arbitrary and untenable and, therefore, should be rescinded”. His petition stated that certain subjective criteria were considered to pave the way for Kamath’s inclusion.
“… the said action of introducing subjective elements into the selection criteria with a view to benefiting and including other players in place of the Applicant, and that too, without any prior notice, and at the 11th hour, without justification, is manifestly arbitrary and liable to be struck down as being in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution of India.”
The petition also stated that Kamath was “ineligible” for selection under existing criteria.
“FOR THIS, Respondent #1 erred in failing to acknowledge that Ms. Archana Kamath is not eligible for selection and should not have been selected to the women’s table tennis team representing the country in the CWG. This is because Ms. Kamath’s scores under the existing criteria (47) as well as the new selection criteria (50) are below those required to be in the top 4 players.”