The Madras High Court has ordered a senior Tamil Nadu government official to hold an inquiry into allegations of favoritism against a top official of the Special Olympics Bharat in the State in the selection of differently-abled players.
A division bench of Justices Vineet Kothari and C V Karthikeyan has directed State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities B Maheswari to conduct the probe against Area Director Special Olympics Bharat-Tamil Nadu J Paul Devasagayam.
The court said Ms Maheswari was free to take action against Devasagayam under the relevant section of the Rights of the Persons with Disabilities Act. The court has also appointed former DGP W I Devaram, president of the Tamil Nadu Athletic Association, to supervise the inquiry and submit a report.
Devaram may also submit a report about the general working of Devasagayam to the court on the next date of hearing on August 20, the bench said.
It gave the directions on a PIL by C K Manoranjani seeking a direction to the Union Sports Ministry and the Chief Executive Officer of the Special Olympics Bharat in New Delhi to frame rules, regulations and guidelines for selection and training of intellectually disabled for each category of sports and their participation in various events.
The petitioner has alleged the selection process of the disabled players was not transparent and several deserving sportspersons were not selected.
The bench also directed Devasagayam to file a copy of the registration details and the constitution and by-laws of the trust, in which he has been working as area director for the last many years. He should also state the sources of income of the trust, expenditure with a brief note on the selection process of players for the past few years and whether the process was open to all such differently abled persons or not.
Earlier, the bench was informed that three disabled children were allowed to take part in the ongoing Special Olympics International Football Championship as directed by it in the previous hearing on August 2.
Devasagayam and M S John Nagarajan, Senior Sports manager of Special Olympics Bharat, deposited Rs 25,000 each in the high court as directed by the judges.
According to the petitioner, except the Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995 and the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, there was no other mechanism for transparent selection and participation of special children in sporting events.
The petitioner alleged Devasagayam and Nagarajan indulged in misappropriation of funds and showed discrimination in the selection of children.
“They select and train the athlete candidates whose parents pay or for undue favouritism, whereby special sort of preference of selection is given to their wards while leaving deserving candidates in dark,” she alleged.