New Delhi: In a big relief for Gurbaj Singh, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today termed the nine-month ban imposed on the experienced midfielder for creating groupism and disharmony within the team as "illegal" and ordered stay on the sanction with immediate effect.
The Court gave Hockey India (HI) a week's time to convene a meeting of its Athletes Grievances Redressal Committee to deliberate and take a call on the matter.
"The facts and circumstances discussed here-in-above lead to an irresistible conclusion that that the impugned orders dated 10.08.2015 and 18.09.2015, imposing ban of 9 months upon the petitioner, are patently illegal, arbitrary and unreasonable and hence, both the impugned orders are hereby set aside," Punjab and Haryana High Court judge Rakesh Kumar Jain said in his order, a copy of which is with PTI.
"However, the matter is remanded back to Hockey India /Hockey India Athletes Grievances Redressal Committee, who would convene a meeting within a period of one week from the date of receipt of certified copy of this order and shall take a decision in that meeting for imposition of punishment/penalty upon the petitioner, if needed be, as per Levels 1, 2 and 3 of the Code Conduct Guideline Sanctions provided in Appendix-12 of the Code of Conduct (Players & Players), which shall also commensurate with the allegations/charges levelled against the petitioner in Points 12(b), (c) and (d), as mentioned in the minutes of the 2nd meeting of the Hockey India/Hockey India Athletes Redressal Grievances Committee held on 10.8.2015.
"The decision taken by the Committee shall be intimated to the petitioner in two days thereafter," the Court said in its judgement. HI had imposed a ban of nine months on Gurbaj after former national coach Jude Felix had submitted a report following the Hockey World League Semifinals in Antwerp, Belgium to the Federation, in which allegations of misbehaviour were made against the veteran midfielder.
Gurbaj had appealed against the disciplinary committee's findings and the matter was heard by a HI committee comprising president Narinder Batra, CEO Elena Norman, Harbinder Singh and RP Singh. However, they were not convinced by the clarification offered by the player. The ban means Gurbaj will miss next year's HIL and Hockey World League (HWL) finals to be held in Raipur, starting November this year.