Sportsman and Sportsmanship

The international arena has been buzzing, about the recent affair of Usian Bolt and Justin Gatlin at Beijing, who were recently up against each other at the World Athletics Championship. In the first clash i.e. the 100m sprint, the competition was quite a close one, the victory being attributable to that 0.01s difference, favouring Bolt. However, this feat received an overwhelming welcome from the spectators who embraced it with joy and pride that the spirit of sports had been saved, as for them the race marked the victory of good over evil, given the doping background of the latter, returning black sheep. Though the latter’s feat cannot be undermined, given the age on his side.

While all this was going on, it was a bipolar issue being published on the sports page of every national in India. This issue was the one concerning the Khel Ratna Award nomination.

It goes something like this:

Sania Mirza had been recommended for the Khel Ratna award, the same was challenged by H.N. Girisha who claimed that he “deserved the coveted award more than Sania” and to this effect moved a petition in the Karnataka High Court, which ruled that the award will remain “subject to the result of the writ petition”, while it allowed Ms. Mirza to receive the award, with the rider that it may be taken away. Thus while Ms. Mirza has as of now received the award conferred upon her on 29th August 2015, there is a cloud of chance that it might be taken away.

The litigation initiated is akin to the one earlier done by Manoj Kumar who contested for the Arjuna Award, albeit he did not plead for someone else’s being taken away.

However with the matter sub-judice, in the given staus quo, here’s a little analysis:

H.N. Girisha, is a Paralympic Athlete, who has in his kitty, a silver in High Jump, 2012 Paralympics Games and a bronze in the 2014 Asian Games.

Sania Mirza, is an ace tennis player, having inter alia, the WTA championship title 2014 and doubles and mixed doubles title at the Grand Slam in 2015.

In such a scenario the main contention of H.N. Girisha, Arjuna and Padma Shri awardee for the above-mentioned stunts, is that the list of contenders for the Award in is based on major international tournaments such as the Olympics, Para-Olympics, World Cups and Asian Games, Sania’s achievements on the WTA tour does not count.

Now on perusal of the Scheme for Khel Ratna Award, the interpretation of Mr. Girisha seems to be such to suit his convenience, for the section reads that:

“The spectacular and most outstanding performance in the field of sports by a sportsperson over a period of four years immediately preceding the year during which award is to be given shall be honoured with the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award for excellence in Sports & Games at international level i.e. Olympic/Asian/ Commonwealth/World Games/Championships/World Cup and equivalent recognized international tournaments.”

To reiterate, even when narrowly construed, the section apart from Olympics, Asian Games, Common Wealth Games, Championships and World-Cups, provides for “equivalent recognized international tournaments”, which obviously has within its ambit the Tennis Grand Slams, which means that Sania Mirza is rightfully in the list given her accolades.

Now only if the counsel of Ms. Mirza, as recommended for appointment, was to be as cynical as the main contention of the petitioner is, it’s interesting to note how Paralympic has not been categorically stated in the eligibility list of international championships.

Well that apart, it’s worthwhile looking into the hypothetically-possible conclusions of the case:

Either Ms. Mirza is stripped of this prestige publically, for it to be conferred upon Mr. Girisha, which shall be nothing less than a sorry depiction of the departure of-sportsmanship from sports, justice from society and reasonability from law;

Or Ms. Mirza retains the award, which should hopefully bring to an end the litigations initiated by sports-persons, who are thirsty of award and acknowledgement, to such an extent that they are willing to severe the sportsmanship etiquettes.

Both of them or any third possibility is looked forward to, for that shall be the deciding factor of how efficient our judiciary is, and how does it tackle the cases presented before it for reasons best known to the action initiator. Well there’s still a big question mark on the merits found in the case by the Karnataka High Court.

Submitted By :-

Saranya Mishra
Student of BA.LLB – II,
ILS Law College, Pune