Perhaps or the first time, the Indian judiciary will be present at the Indira Gandhi Stadium in New Delhi on Saturday morning to oversee a unique kabaddi match between players who represented India at the Asian Games in Indonesia and those who did not.
The match is being held on a Delhi High Court order passed on a petition was filed by former India international Mahipal Singh last month after a number of high-profile stars, including Surender Nada, Surjeet Singh and Manjeet Chillar, were left out of the Asian Games team.
Mahipal had approached the High Court with allegations of bribery in the Asian Games selection process. However, the Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India (AKFI) had announced the squads before that. The court then decided that a match should take place to determine the veracity of the allegations.
The bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V K Rao had ordered the AKFI to 'conduct a selection process which shall commence from 15th September 2018 at 11:00 am.' It also appointed Delhi High Court Justice (retired) S P Garg as the observer of the selection, along with an officer from the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports.
For a long time now, AKFI has been headed by veteran politician Janardan Singh Gehlot, and its present president is his wife, Mridul Bhadauria. Gehlot is now the president of the International Kabaddi Federation (IKF).
The High Court has also asked the AKFI to make sure that Saturday’s match has a pan-India representation. This came after the suspicion that many international players might avoid participating in the match citing injury or fatigue.
'The game will be between the men and women players who represented India at the Asian Games and those who were not picked. They will be from those who attended the national camp. It (the order) doesn’t say that the people who were part of the Asian Games team have to compulsorily participate, but it is left to the good conscience of the players,' advocate B S Nagar said.
After dominating Kabaddi for more than two decades, the Indian team suffered a major setback at the Asian Games when it lost to South Korea in the group stage before failing to Iran in the semi-finals. The Ajay Thakur-led side had to settle for a bronze while the women’s team also lost the final to Iran after winning gold in the 2010 and 2014 editions.