The Supreme Court on Tuesday has given green signal to the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) to conduct elections, overuling the stay order passed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court on holding elections to the wrestling body.
The WFI has been suspended by the sport’s world governing body for not holding elections after its chief was charged with sexual misconduct.
India’s top wrestlers Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia has staged weeks of sit-in protests in New Delhi this year to demand the resignation of WFI President Brij Bhushan Singh.
The WFI elections, which were initially to be held on July 4, were then scheduled to be held on August 12. The elections were first delayed because the Returning Officer was not appointed, after which the Assam Wrestling Association filed a petition in the Gauhati High Court to further delay the elections.
The delay in elections invoked a stern warning from United World Wrestling (UWW), who threatened to suspend the WFI bak in June, if the elections were not held as per the initial timeline. However, the UWW has issued no statement since then.
The Indian Olympic Association-appointed ad-hoc panel governing the WFI had initially scheduled the elections for July 6 but was forced to reschedule it to July 11 after some disaffiliated state bodies from Maharashtra, Haryana, Telangana, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh approached it for a hearing, claiming their dismissal was not appropriate.
The UWW had put its words into action. The WFI elections have been long overdue, after the term of its former president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, who has been accused of sexual harassment, ended earlier this year.
The polls were postponed twice owing to court orders. Brij Bhushan’s confidante Sanjay Singh and former Commonwealth Games gold medallist Anita Sheoran are in the fray to succeed him.
But a day before the elections were to be held – on August 12 – the Punjab and Haryana High Court issued a stay order following a plea by two WFI-affiliated units