The Supreme Court’s decision to not entertain a petition filed on behalf of triple jumper Renjith Maheswary against the Sports Ministry with respect to the Arjuna Awards has put the ball back in the ministry’s court.
The petition was filed by an organisation called Navolayam Samskarika Kendram, alleging Maheswary’s name was removed from the list of the awardees on the morning of the ceremony in 2013 following the charge of an old doping case.
The Sports Ministry had eventually decided to not consider Maheswary’s case after investigations confirmed he had tested positive for ephedrine, and he was banned for three months in 2008.
The Athletics Federation of India, however, has re-nominated him for the Arjuna award this year.
A ministry official, on Tuesday, played down the talk about the government having already decided to not consider his case.
“While the reasons for his rejection last year continue to exist, the final decision will only be taken by the awards’ screening committee, which is yet to be formed. How can we arbitrarily reject an application that has come through the national federation?” a senior Sports Ministry official asked.
Maheswary has insisted he that is innocent since his samples were not tested by a WADA-accredited laboratory, the same argument the AFI has used to re-nominate him.
The AFI, on Tuesday, held an emergency meeting to discuss the possibility of withdrawing Maheswary’s nomination after the Supreme Court’s decision but ultimately decided to leave the decision up to the ministry.
“We discussed every possibility but finally decided that, since the nomination has already been sent to the ministry and there is also a judicial angle to this whole issue, we should let things follow due course,” AFI secretary C.K. Valson said.
The Kerala athlete’s dope offence is a matter of record. The ministry had noted that Maheswary had not only been placed under suspension by the AFI pending an enquiry into allegations in October 2008, he was also informed of a three-month ban w.e.f October 13, 2008, after a competent authority heard him. He was also barred from participating in the 2009 all-India Railway Athletics Championships.
In fact, the Sports Ministry, at one point, had even considered action against the AFI for recommending Maheswary in 2011, 2012 and 2013 despite lack of proper records and sloppy work in assisting the ministry in its enquiries but eventually dropped the idea.