Awards would lose their sheen and cease to be coveted and perceived as indicative of the excellence of the holder thereof if they are conferred on persons not deserving thereof or if selection thereof is guided not by the spirit of award and identifying excellence but for extraneous reasons, the Court said.
The Delhi High Court has observed that, utmost care and transparency should be observed in the selection of the recipient of awards like Dronacharya Awards and the awards ought not to be conferred on those who are not perceived by those having expertise in the subject as deserving thereof. Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw made this observation while dismissing a challenge by one Vinod Kumar against Dronacharya Award conferred to Wrestling Coach.
COURT CANNOT INTERFERE WITH ‘CHOICE’
The Court observed “The Dronacharya Award with which this petition is concerned is an award for excellence in the field of coaching in sports. Such excellence is to necessarily depend on the perception of the person/s conferred with the power of selection and may vary from person to person. The very fact that the Scheme for conferment of the award drawn up on the direction of this Court itself, though laying down the parameters of selection, confers the Selection Committee with a discretion of as much as 20%, is indicative of the selection being guided not by reason but by choice. Owing to the same, the person who has secured the highest marks as per the parameters laid down in the Scheme can still be denied the award by using the discretionary 20% marks. The said scheme is not under challenge. In my view, jurisprudentially there can be no exercise of the power of judicial review over any administrative function which is based on such “choice‟. Judicial review as has been repeatedly said is of the decision making process and not of the decision. The power of judicial review can thus be exercised only when the decision making process is without any element of “choice‟ and there can be no judicial review of a decision which is guided by “choice‟ and not by reason. To hold otherwise would amount to the Court making a “choice‟ and which the Courts ought not to and are not to make’
ONE CANNOT NOMINATE HIMSELF FOR THE AWARD
Dismissing the Writ petition preferred by the petitioner the Court said “I am also pained to see that the challenge is being made by the petitioner himself, claiming to be entitled to the award instead of the respondent No.4 who has been selected therefor. In this context it may be noted that as per the Scheme aforesaid, it is not open to any person to nominate himself for the award. The persons who are entitled to nominate have been specified in the Scheme. The grievance if any for non-selection by the Selection Committee of the petitioner should have been of the person/body who had nominated the petitioner and ought not to be of the petitioner who was nominated. Need is felt to remind the petitioner that “Dignity does not consist in possessing honours. But in deserving them”, as was said by Aristotle.”
CONFER AWARDS ONLY TO THOSE DESERVING IT
The Court observed “At the same time need is felt to remind the respondent No.1 UOI that though our Constitution vide Article 18 abolished titles but need for awards such as the Dronacharya Award have been justified under Article 51A(j) as an incentive to the citizens to strive towards excellence so that the nation constantly rises to higher levels of endeavour and achievement. However such awards would lose their sheen and cease to be coveted and perceived as indicative of the excellence of the holder thereof if they are conferred on persons not deserving thereof or if selection thereof is guided not by the spirit of award and identifying excellence but for extraneous reasons. All that can be observed is that utmost care and transparency should be observed in the selection of the recipient of such awards and the awards ought not to be conferred on those who are not perceived by those having expertise in the subject as deserving thereof. I should not be perceived as critical of the Scheme vesting an element of discretion in the conferment of the award. The selection for excellence in sports cannot be scientific and mathematical and necessarily entails a discretion.”
Read the Judgment here.