The President, Shri Pranab Mukherjee presenting the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award to Ms. Sania Mirza for Tennis, in a glittering ceremony, at Rashtrapati Bhavan, in New Delhi on August 29, 2015.

President, of India, Pranab Mukherjee presenting the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award to Sania Mirza at Rashtrapati Bhavan

Despite the stay imposed by the Karnataka High Court, tennis star Sania Mirza was awarded highest sports award Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna by the President of India Pranab Mukherjee in a glittering ceremony held at Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi on 29 August 2015.

Sania Mirza is currently the world number 1 player in the women doubles tennis.


How is Khel Ratna awarded

The recipients for the Khel Ratna, Arjuna Awards and the Dronacharya Awards are selected by a panel constituted by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of India. Selection Committee headed by Justice V.K. Bali, former Chief Justice of Kerala High Court and consisting of eminent sports persons and sports administrators decided the recipients of the 2015 awards. The award is conferred as per the ‘Scheme for Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award in Sports and Game’  issued by the Ministry.
Others considered for the award this year included squash player Deepika Pallikal, discus thrower Vikas Gowda, track and field star Tintu Luka, rising shuttler P V Sindhu, and hockey captain Sardar Singh.

Writ Petition by paralympian HN Girisha

Case No. Writ Petition (C) No. 36266 of 2015
Parties Petitioner:

  • H N Girisha

Respondents:

  1. Union Of India, Ministry Of Youth Affirs And Sports
  2. Director Of Sports, The Ministry Of Youth Affairs And Sports Department Of Sports
  3. Chairman, Selection Committee For Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Awards 2015
  4. Paralympic Committee Of India
  5. Sania Mirza

The Writ Petition seeking stay on the award of Khel Ratna on Sania Mirza was filed by Hosanagara Nagarajegowda Girisha, a paralympic high jumper who had jumped a height of 1.74m in the final of the 2012 Summer Paralympics Men’s High Jump, to finish in the silver medal position in the competition. He become the first Indian to win a medal at that event. A Padhma Shri and Arjuna Award recipient Girisha said:

“I deserve to win the top award given to sportspersons. I am a top contender as I garnered 90 points as against Sania, who is not anywhere near in top contenders’ list. The award is given to sportspersons based on the performance-based points system”

“I understand Sania has won Grand Slam titles but according to ministry notification, only performances at the Olympics, Paralympics, Asiad, Commonwealth Games and World Championships from 2011 will be considered,” [Indian Express]

Girisha claimed that though Mirza has won Grand Slam titles but according to the ministry notification, only performances at the Olympics, Paralympics, Asiad, Commonwealth Games and World Championships from 2011 can be considered. Girisha alleged that his application was not even discussed during the selection meeting.


Karnataka High Court stays the award

Girisha’s petition was listed before Justice A S Bopanna on 26 August 2015 who issued notice to the Respondents and sought their reply within 15 days as to why Girisha’s name was overlooked in favour of Mirza, considering the points system being implemented by the Ministry.


Government says stay won’t stop the awards

DNA reported that Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports said that it had decided to go ahead with it’s original decision. It quoted a senior official:

The ministry will not make any last-minute changes to the awards list. Sania will get the Khel Ratna as per the awards committee’s recommendation. The decision is final.

Ministry official further said that the ministry had received the court notice on 27 August 2015 and it will be filing its reply within the stipulated 15 days after going through the contents of it and will explain out everything to the court.


After the awards, Mirza flew to New York for the US Open. A happy Mirza tweeted:

Image via PIB

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