High Court permits Bilquis Mir to participate as Judge in Pre-Olympics in Japan

Srinagar, Apr 16: The High Court of J&K and Ladakh has asked the government to grant permission for travel abroad to an International athlete and Coach in the Sport of Canoeing and Kayaking, Bilquis Mir, who has been selected as Chief Finish Line Judge in the Asian Canoe Sprint Olympic Qualifier being held in Japan from April 14 to 21.

Issuing on Mir’s plea notice returnable within four weeks, a bench of Justice Sindhu Sharma said “In the meanwhile, subject to objections and till next date of hearing before the Bench, the respondents shall grant NOC or permission to the petitioner to travel abroad for the event scheduled in Japan in the first instance”.

Mir had sought the court’s intervention for permission with the contention that she is an International athlete and Coach in the Sport of Canoeing and Kayaking, has been selected by the Asian Canoe Confederation as a Chief Finish Line Judge in the Asian Canoe Sprint Olympic Qualifier to be held in Japan from April 14 to April 21.

She has also been selected as a Judge (ITO) for the Paralympic Games to be held in Paris, France, from August 28 to September 8 this year and is nominated from Asia for 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris from September 3 to 9 as a first ever Technical Officer from India.

As per Mir’s Plea, the President, Indian Kayaking and Canoeing Association on February 21 this year requested the government to issue NOC to enable her participation in these competitions. On March 22, the Association again requested the Secretary, Youth Services and Sports, Jammu & Kashmir, to issue NOC for Mir’s timely participation in the International event as it was a unique honour for the country to be a Jury Member in the Pre-Olympics.

Mir contended that despite repeated requests, the authorities did not issue NOC or permission to her to travel abroad to participate as a Judge in the Pre Olympics in Japan.

Sajad Ashraf, GA submitted that the petitioner is facing investigation in FIR no.23/2023 under Section 5 (1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, regarding her appointment as Physical Education Teacher and as such required mandatory vigilance clearance by ACB before processing her case for a visit to foreign country. In addition, the government said, a complaint has also been filed against her. Further the form submitted by her on the online portal was not accepted as she has not submitted her property statement.

The court observed that the only reason for the petitioner’s travel abroad is to participate in the Asian Canoe Sprint Olympic Qualifier to be held in Japan from April 14th to 21st April, 2024 on an invitation as it will only bolster and promote the sport of canoeing and kayaking.

While the court noted that it is not the case of the government that there is any apprehension of Mir’s evading arrest, it said she also submitted that she is working with the Department and is available for investigation and complaint.

“In case it was not expedient to grant permission due to some reason or any lacuna, the same should have been conveyed to the petitioner

Within a reasonable time”, the court said. “In this case, it appears that no such decision has been taken”

The Court observed that keeping in view the fact that the event in Japan is going to be held on 14 April to 21 April and Mir would lose all opportunities to participate in the same. “This may even act as deterrent for appointment as Chief Line Finish Judge in future”, it said.

The court underscored that the participation of Mir in future International events would suffer and it may even have a deterrent effect with regard to such a position being provided to the athletes in India.

“Prima facie case for indulgence is made out,” the court said and issued notice on the petition as well as CM returnable within four weeks The court listed the matter for further hearing on May 24.

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