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OCI: SC rejects govt plea for staying HC order

The Supreme Court on Monday asked US born shooter Sorab Singh Gill to respond to the Centre's petition challenging a Punjab and Haryana High Court verdict allowing him to represent India in international sports events.

other Updated: Apr 19, 2010 23:08 IST
Satya Prakash

The Supreme Court on Monday asked US born shooter Sorab Singh Gill to respond to the Centre's petition challenging a Punjab and Haryana High Court verdict allowing him to represent India in international sports events.

A bench headed by Justice B. Sudarshan Reddy, which issued notices to Gill and the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI), gave four weeks to Gill to file his response. It also gave two weeks to the Centre for filing its rejoinder to Gill's reply. The NRAI is supporting Gill. The case is likely to come up for hearing after the summer vacation. The court, however, rejected the Centre's prayer for staying the HC order saying it had become infructuous.

The Government had withdrawn the Indian skeet team from the Asian Clay Shooting Championship in Bangkok, as Sorab was part of it.

The absence of any stay on the HC order means at present there is no bar against Gill representing India at international events. Gill, son of Punjab Director-General of Police P.S. Gill, was born on August 19, 1987 in the US and returned to India at the age of one and pursued his studies at Chandigarh.

A third-year student of Law in the Panjab University, Gill was granted the OCI status on April 4, 2007. He has represented India in junior world events and won two medals at the Asian Championships in Kuwait in 2007. However, he was barred, along with other OCI and People of Indian Origin (PIO) sportspersons, from representing India in international events, following orders issued by the Sports Ministry in December 2008.

At the root of the controversy is the question: Can an Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) represent India in international sporting events? It involves interpretation of government policy and the legal position regarding the scope and ambit of the rights of OCIs.

Gill's senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi said the shooter had been a part of Indian contingent in the past but the government policy was hindering his future participation in international events from India. The Centre maintained OCIs could not be equated with NRIs as the latter were Indian passport holders living abroad. Regarding Gill, it pointed out that he opted to continue as a US citizen even after becoming a major in 2005.