The delayed Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) elections were pushed further on Monday with the Gauhati High Court fixing July 28 as the next date for hearing the petition, filed by the Assam Wrestling Association. The WFI elections were to be conducted on July 11 but the Gauhati High Court had stayed the polls, following Assam Wrestling Association’s (AWA) plea seeking right to participate in the election process. The state association had claimed that it was entitled to be an affiliated member of the WFI with voting rights but it was denied recognition by the national federation despite its Executive Committee recommending the same on November 15, 2014.
Devajit Saikia, the AWA advocate told PTI that the matter has been listed for next hearing on July 28.
“The WFI (ad-hoc committee) lawyer didn’t appear before the court today. Representative of the sports ministry, which is among the respondents, sought one week’s time to file their affidavit. Accordingly, the court asked them to file the affidavit by July 26 and listed the matter for July 28,” Saikia informed.
It could not be known why the IOA ad-hoc committee, one of the respondents along with the Sports Ministry, did not send its lawyer as panel head Bhupender Singh Bajwa did not take calls.
“It is the job of the ad-hoc panel to respond to the petition. We did not have a role in that. Our body is suspended, how we could interfere in this? We had made our position clear to the Returning Officer that Assam was never a full member, it had an associate membership without voting right,” said an official from the previous WFI set up.
Interestingly, WFI held elections in 2015 and 2019 but Assam association did not approach court then demanding full membership.
The Gauhati High Court had stayed the polls on June 25, the last date to submit names for the electoral college.
The petitioner had contended that unless their body is affiliated to the WFI, and they can nominate their representative to the electoral college, the election process should be stalled.
The WFI, before being suspended by the Sports Ministry, had set May 7 as the election date. Sports Minister Anurag Thakur, after his meeting with protesting wrestlers, had said that WFI elections will be held by June 30.
The IOA then announced that elections will be held on July 4 but the Returning Officer set July 6 as the new date.
However, after five disaffiliated state bodies staked claim to be eligible for voting, the Returning Officer yet again delayed the elections by five days, setting July 11 as the poll date.
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