The top court granted liberty to Sharma to approach the Delhi High Court and request it to expeditiously take up his appeal against its single-judge order which had refused to interfere with his non-selection for Tokyo Paralympics, scheduled for later this month.
A bench of justices A M Khanwilkar and Sanjiv Khanna passed the order after senior advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for Sharma, said it is a classic case as “Tokyo has refused to allot additional slot” to the petitioner as there were 10 slots – eight for men and two for women participants.
The apex court had Monday ordered the Paralympics Committee of India (PCI) to immediately include the five-time Paralympian as an additional participant for the sporting mega-event in Japan which is scheduled to commence from August 24.
At the outset, Singh told the bench on Tuesday that Sharma’s appeal pending before a division bench of the high court could be heard Wednesday and it could be decided whether Sharma or the other player should go.
He said the high court can also decide whether Sharma can go as a reserve for the Paralympics.
Referring to the issue of players being already in bubble, Singh said, “35 persons have tested positive after reaching there”.
“Accordingly, we dispose of this Special Leave Petition (SLP) with liberty to the petitioner to approach the division bench of the high court and request for taking up the appeal expeditiously,” the bench said in its order.
The top court was hearing Sharma’s plea challenging the July 30 order of a division bench of the high court which had posted his petition relating to his non-selection for the upcoming games for hearing on August 6.
In his plea filed in the apex court, Sharma, an Arjuna awardee, had said that last date of selection for shooting in Tokyo Paralympic is August 2 and if the matter is heard by the high court on August 6, it would make his petition for selection infructuous.
Sharma had said that a division bench of the high court had on July 30 sought responses of the PCI and the Centre on his appeal against its single-judge order and posted the matter for hearing on August 6.
In his plea in the apex court, he had said that his counsel had tried for an early date of hearing before the high court since, as per policy of PCI, the deadline for sending names of final selected candidates for participation in the games is August 2.
“The petitioner humbly seeks intervention of this court in the present matter as the legitimate opportunity of the petitioner to participate in Tokyo Paralympics in R7 event and consequently bring laurels to the country will be lost if the arbitrary, discriminatory and capricious selection of the shooter in R7 event by the selection committee of PCI is allowed,” said the plea filed in the top court.
During the July 30 hearing before the high court, Sharma’s counsel had submitted that the event will start from August 24, and August 2 is the deadline for Tokyo 2020 organising committee to receive sports entry forms submitted by the National Paralympic Committee (NPC).
The counsel had urged the high court to list the matter on an early date, however, the bench had said the petitioner should have approached the court a little earlier and not at the last moment.
On July 27, the high court’s single-judge order had said that PCI’s conduct in relation to the selection of another player over Sharma was “unbecoming of a public sporting body” which has to maintain a fair, transparent and inclusionary approach.
The court had, however, refused to interfere with the selection of the other player over Sharma at this belated stage, noting that the shooting team was already in a bubble.
It had however asked the Union Sports Ministry to examine the aspect and take action, if necessary.