Sanjita Chanu takes Delhi High Court’s help after being ignored for Arjuna Award 2017

Sanjita Chanu takes Delhi High Court’s help after being ignored for Arjuna Award 2017

Over the issue of being ignored for Arjuna award this year too, weightlifter Khumukcham Sanjita Chanu who won India’s gold medal at the Commonwealth Games 2014 in Glasgow, filed a writ petition against the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs before the Delhi High Court following her exclusion from the list of Arjuna awardees 2017.  The Indian Express reported that in the writ petition, Sanjita Chanu has mentioned that she has not been included in the list of Arjuna awardees for two successive years despite ‘better achievements’ and ‘higher qualification marks’ than those who have been chosen.

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“Under the scheme of the Arjuna awards given by the ministry there is a points system. In Chanu’s case, she had got 45 points. She is a Commonwealth Games 2014 (Glasgow) gold medallist for which she earns 30 points and another gold at the Commonwealth Senior Women Weightlifting Championships in 2015 for which she is eligible for 15 points.  Totally she has 45 points. Sportspersons who have not even silver or bronze in CWG 2014 have got the Arjuna award,”.


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Lawyer Hemant Raj Phalper who represented Sanjita stated that “Under the scheme of the Arjuna awards given by the ministry there is a points system. In Chanu’s case, she had got 45 points. She is a Commonwealth Games 2014 (Glasgow) gold medallist for which she earns 30 points and another gold at the Commonwealth Senior Women Weightlifting Championships in 2015 for which she is eligible for 15 points.  Totally she has 45 points. Sportspersons who have not even silver or bronze in CWG 2014 have got the Arjuna award,”. While Chanu has not been considered for the award, another gold medallist from the 2014 CWG, Sathish Sivalingam (77kg) was conferred the Arjuna award the next year. Chanu had been nominated for the award by the Indian Weightlifting Federation even in 2016 but was ignored for the award.

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She had obtained 32.8 points based on the weightage while another sportsperson — a women’s hockey player — who had obtained just 8.41 points was conferred the award. In all, four sportspersons who received less points than Chanu were handed the award last year.


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According to an RTI reply obtained by Chanu’s lawyers, the minutes of the meeting from last year show that she had obtained 32.8 points based on the weightage while another sportsperson — a women’s hockey player — who had obtained just 8.41 points was conferred the award. In all, four sportspersons who received less points than Chanu were handed the award last year. Weightlifting Federation of India vice-president Sahdev Yadav confirmed that Chanu’s name had been nominated in 2016 and 2017.

A total of 17 sportspersons have been recommended for the Arjuna Award by the selection committee, headed by Justice (retd) C K Thakkar.

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Chanu’s lawyer would be arguing the case on the basis of the points accumulated by her over the last four years. Chanu totalled 45 points, thanks to her CWG gold, two Commonwealth Championships gold medals and a bronze at the Asian Championships.

She had more points than many athletes who have been recommended for the award. She is the only Glasgow CWG gold medallist who hasn’t been considered for the award by successive selection committees. All the other 14 Glasgow gold winners have been given the award.

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This is not the first time an athlete has taken legal recourse after being overlooked for the award. In the last couple of years, there have been instances when athletes and coaches approached the High Court, contesting the government’s decision. Para-athlete HN Girisha, wrestling coach Vinod Kumar are some of the examples. In 2015, boxer Manoj Kumar had approached the Delhi High Court. He was given the award after it came to light that he was mistaken for a namesake who had failed a dope test.

It may be mentioned that Sanjita and Mirabai won gold medals in Commonwealth Senior Weightlifting Championships 2017 which is going on at Gold Coast City in Australia. The two lifters have qualified for Commonwealth Games 2018.

— With excerpts from:  Indian Express and The Tribune

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