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Paralympic athlete's application for license renewal raises questions on condition of Paralympic sports administration in India

By Shreya Agarwal      19 April, 2024 06:06 PM      0 Comments

NEW DELHI: A plea by a female paralympic athlete seeking renewal of her International Paralympic Committee (IPC) license card to enable participation in the Paris Paralympics Grand Prix 2024, has raised questions on the plight of paralympic sports, and the condition of paralympic sports administration in India.

Appearing before a division bench of Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Manmeet Pritam Singh Arora, Jeetu Kanwar through Advocate Arundhati Katju stated that the renewal of her IPC license which would enable her to participate in the Paris Paralympics 2024 is already complete, but the same is being deliberately withheld by the National Paralympics Committee (NPC) for the sole purpose of harassing her. 

She moved Court challenging an earlier order of the Delhi High Court itself which directed the NPC to decide her application in 4 weeks, stating that the relief was not sufficient.

The Case

Katju informed Court that Kanwar is a “stellar para-athlete and an exceptional scholar, who was diagnosed with Spastic Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy from birth which affected her limbs, face and torso”. 

Kanwar claimed to have represented India in the IWAS World Games 2022 in Portugal in the 100 meter event T-35 category, where she got the sixth rank in 2022 in the Asian rankings maintained by IPC.

Katju said that Kanwar has also been a licensed IPC athlete holding a valid license card from the Season of 2018 until the Season of 2023, however since February 14, 2024, NPC had been sitting on her renewed license and not issuing the PDF copy to her.

This prejudiced her participation in the Paris Paralympics 2024, Katju argued, as she had already missed out on having her rankings and results considered in one qualifier event held in Bengaluru in March 2024, owing to the delay in issuance of the renewed license.

She further stated that due to the non-issuance of the IPC license card, Kanwar is not able to participate in the other upcoming qualifier and classification review competitions as well.

With the last entry date for Paris 2024 Grand Prix being May 31, 2024, Katju argued that even if her IPC license is issued after four weeks (from April 16, 2024) as directed by an earlier order of the Delhi High Court, Kanwar will still be ousted from participating in the Paris Paralympics 2024 by virtue of her missing the qualifier competitions.

Therefore, she challenged the earlier order.

She further pressed that “the renewal of the IPC license is a ministerial act to be carried out” and “no “decision” is to be taken or discretion is required to be exercised in this regard, i.e. as soon as the requisite fees has been paid, all that is required to do be done is to update the portal to which the National Paralympic Committee (NPC) has sole access, download a PDF copy of the IPC license card and thereafter, share it with the athlete.”

In light of the urgency, the division bench disposed of Kanwar’s appeal by modifying the direction of the learned Single Judge and directing the NPC to take a decision on the matter within a week, i.e. by April 23, 2024.

Sports Ministry's suspension of the Paralympic Committee of India in February

It is important to mention here that in February itself, calling the delay in holding its elections as “willful and intentional”, the Sports Ministry had suspended the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI) citing violation of the national sports code and misgovernance, according to news reports.

The Ministry had also informed the IPC about the derecognition of the PCI and formation of an ad-hoc body, composed of distinguished administrators and sportspersons to administer paralympic sports affairs as the PCI also served as the NPC for some disciplines.

In its suspension letter, the Ministry had written, “…whereas taking note of the intentional delay by the PCI to elect a new executive committee, vis a vis the essentiality of upholding good governance and accountability standards in sports federations nationwide and the requirements of all the national sports federations, National Olympic Committee (NOC) and National Paralympic Committee (NPC) to adhere strictly to the sports code, the government is left with no choice but to suspend the recognition of PCI with immediate effect till further orders.”

The Ministry had then directed the Sports Authority of India (SAI) “to coordinate with the IPC to form an ad-hoc committee comprising eminent administrators and sportspersons to undertake these tasks performed by PCI to safeguard the interests of the Indian para-sportspersons and the para-sports disciplines, who will oversee the operations of the PCI”. 

However, Kanwar’s case - which deals with a license renewal application from February itself, raises questions as to whether the woes of Indian para-sportspersons have indeed been addressed and their rights and interests safeguarded even with the new ad-hoc Paralympic Committee in place.

The petitioner was represented by Ms. Arundhati Katju with Mr. Govind Manoharan, Ms. Samiksha Godiyal, Mr. Nishchiy Sharma, Ms. Snigdha Ganguly, Ms. Shristi Borthakur, Ms. Ritika Meena and Ms. Parkhi Rai, Advocates.

The respondent was represented by Mr. Vedansh Anand, Advocate for Union of India.

Cause Title: Jeetu Kanwar v Union of India & Ors.



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Paralympic athlete's application for license renewal raises questions on condition of Paralympic sports administration in India Paralympic athlete's application for license renewal raises questions on condition of Paralympic sports administration in India

Female paralympic athlete Jeetu Kanwar's application for license renewal has raised questions on the condition of paralympic sportspersons and paralympic sports administration in India.

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