New Delhi: The Delhi University was on Wednesday directed by the Delhi High Court to "reformulate" its sports quota admission norms which stipulate general physical fitness test even for players of indoor games like chess.
"This criteria (fitness test) is apt and justified for outdoor and also indoor games in which physical involvement is there in sports like badminton and table tennis. It may not be entirely rational to have this criteria for games like chess," a bench of Acting Chief Justice A K Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw said.
"Laying down all these standards is not the function of the courts, therefore, this court can only direct University of Delhi to consider the matter in the light of our observation and after in-depth deliberations come out with the physical standards which are required for these games," the court said.
The court was hearing the plea of 17-year-old chess player Chetna Karnani, who was denied admission in BA English (Hons) course for failing the physical fitness test.
Karnani, in her petition, had termed the University's decision to deny her admission on sports quota as "arbitrary".
"No doubt it is the physical fitness which leads to mental fitness. However, it should be examined as to whether for a person playing games like chess what level of physical fitness is appropriate," the court said, adding that "different standard of physical fitness may be required for games like chess and carrom."
While directing the DU to implement new norms from next academic session, the court, however, declined to grant any relief to Karnani on the ground that the current academic session has already started.
"Unless the DU prescribes fresh standards for games like Chess, we cannot grant any relief to her," the bench added.
Karnani's lawyer had argued that she has been playing chess for past seven years, and yet, was denied admission under sports quota in the current academic session.
"The criteria to qualify fitness test should not be made applicable to indoor game. If it is not removed as a pre-condition, the same would defeat the very purpose of including the game of chess," her lawyer had said.
The lawyer had argued that as per the DU's new guidelines, a candidate has to undergo the physical fitness test comprising of three segments - standing broad jump of 1.65 m for boys and 1.15 m for girls, 100 m race or walk in five minutes for boys and six minutes for girls and in addition, 50 m dash in 8 secs for boys and 6 secs for girls.
According to the petitioner, the new guidelines were introduced this year and as per which a student seeking admission through sports quota has to qualify at least in two out of the three segments.
"She (Karnani) may not be able to qualify the fitness test as she is a little obese and therefore, she may not be able to meet the prescribed standards," the counsel had argued.
The lawyer had sought Karnani's admission in the current academic year in any of the four womens' colleges where she had applied for admission in the under-graduate course on the basis of her sports certificates and 72 per cent marks in Class-XII exams.