India to honour Sania with Khel Ratna despite court notice

New Delhi: Tennis ace Sania Mirza is expected to receive the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award on August 29 despite the Karnataka High Court issuing notice to the government following a petition filed by Paralympian HN Girisha.


According to a report, the Union Sports Ministry has decided to go ahead with its original decision to honour the top-ranked women’s doubles player in the world with the highest sporting award of the country.

Earlier this month, Mirza was recommended for the prestigious award by a Sports Ministry-constituted awards committee headed by Justice V K Bali, the retired Chief Justice of the Kerala High Court.

Mirza, regarded as India’s finest women’s tennis player ever, won her first women’s doubles Grand Slam title by lifting the Wimbledon title with Swiss legend Martina Hingis in June. Previously, she had won three Grand Slam titles in Mixed Doubles at the Australian Open, French Open and US Open each.

But soon after the recommendation, Girisha on August 13 expressed his dissatisfaction and questioned the process through which Mirza was selected for the award.

The 27-year-old claimed that he’s the top contender with 90 points, and he subsequently filed a petition. Girisha won a silver medal at the 2012 London Para-Olympic Games in the high jump category and is a recipient of both the Arjuna Award and the Padma Shri.

On August 27, Justice A S Bopanna of Karnataka High Court after hiring on the petition filed by Girisha, directed the respondents — Union Sports Ministry and Mirza — to reply to the notices within 15 days.

However, the DNA report quoted a senior ministry official who said that it’s decision was final.

“The ministry will not make any last-minute changes to the awards list. Sania will get the Khel Ratna as per the awards committee’s recommendation. The decision is final,” the official said.

Furthermore, the official also confirmed that the ministry has received the court notice on Thursday and will be filing its reply within the stipulated 15 days.

President Pranab Mukherjee will present the Khel Ratna and other sports awards tomorrow at the Rastrapati Bhavan. India celebrates August 29 as National Sports Day to mark the birthday of hockey wizard Dhyan Chand.