Amidst much controversy and uproar over who is truly deserving of the Rajiv Khel Ratan, Sania Mirza was conferred the award by the President on 29th of October. Following an elaborate drama, revolving around the credibility of the system the government has in place to determine who is the undisputed winner when it comes to giving out the top sports honor, the Karnataka HC lifted its stay, after an appeal was filed by HN Girisha, claiming he deserved the award more than Mirza.
The Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratan is India’s highest honor given for achievement in sports by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of India. The Government ministry has in place a specific system in place to determine the winner, which qualifies Girisha, a silver medal Para-athlete at the Para-Olympics. He says,”I understand Sania has won Grand Slam titles but according to ministry notification, only performances at the Olympics, Paralympics, Asiad, Commonwealth Games and World Championships from 2011 will be considered.” Girisha had filed and appeal with the Karnataka HC, challenging the conferment and the HC finding his argument acceptable, led Justice A S Bopanna to issue notices to sports ministry and the tennis ace herself, asking them to respond in 15 days.
Mirza is a four time Grand slam winner and recently won her first women’s doubles Grand Slam title by lifting the Wimbledon crown with Swiss partner Martina Hingis. This achievement also makes her the first Indian woman to bag the No. 1 spot in the world doubles rankings for tennis. She has also received the Arjuna award in 2004 and was awarded the Padma Shri, the country’s fourth highest civilian honor, in 2006.
Girisha also said, “I deserve to win the top award given to sportspersons. I am a top contender as I garnered 90 points as against Sania, who is not anywhere near in top contenders’ list. The award is given to sportspersons based on the performance-based points system.” He was awarded the Padma Shri in 2013 and the Arjuna Award in 2014. The Karnataka HC lifted the stay on Mirza’s award and the plea was rejected.