Anush Agarwalla cleared for Paris Olympics by Delhi High Court

Anush Agarwalla in frame. (PC:

The road has been cleared for Kolkata’s Anush Agarwalla to become the first Indian equestrian rider to compete in an Olympic Games dressage competition. Justice Sanjeev Narula of the High Court of Delhi on Thursday dismissed a writ application by Shruti Vora, seeking nomination as India’s entry ahead of Anush Agarwalla for the Paris Olympics. 

“The Court finds no merit in the present petition and accordingly the same is dismissed, along with the pending applications. Interim order(s) stands vacated,” read the judgment.  

“While this judgment upholds the current selection criteria, it is important to recognise the dynamic nature of sports and the continuous evolution of competitive standards,” the judgment added. 

It further said: “Respondent No. 1, as an expert body (Equestrian Federation of India) should remain open to reassessing and refining these criteria to adapt to any significant changes in the sport of Dressage or in response to feedback from athletes and other stakeholders. QQ

“Such flexibility ensures that the selection process not only maintains its integrity and relevance but also aligns with best practices and emerging trends in sports governance. The ability to adapt and respond to the sporting community’s needs is essential for nurturing a healthy competitive environment.”

It may be recalled that Vora moved the High Court of Delhi, basing her argument that the selection must be made on current form rather than look at the average of the four best scores over a year as had been laid down in the selection criteria announced by the Equestrian Federation of India.

As per that, the Anush Agarwalla-Sir Carmello Old combine edged out the Shruti Vora-Magnanimous combination by 67.6625-67.1630 points. Vora’s case, argued by renowned lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi, was that her two Minimum Eligibility Requirements (MER) came in the months of May and June, while most of Agarwalla’s scores were from 2023.

For all that, if there is anyone who comes out smelling badly out in this episode, it is the Equestrian Federation of India. It laid down the selection criteria only on February 22 this year after the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) confirmed a quota for India in the individual dressage competition at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

Unlike the National Rifle Association of India, which adds bonus points to shooters who earn quota for India or win medals in the World Championships, the EFI chose not to recognise the effort made by Agarwalla in heading to Europe soon after winning laurels at the Asian Games in Hangzhou, last year, and working to secure India’s first ever Olympic Games dressage quota. 

Also, unlike the Athletics Federation of India, which mandated all track and field athletes to compete in the National Inter-State Athletics Championships and show form irrespective of when they attained their qualifying standards or what their rankings in the Road To Paris table were, the EFI ignored the opportunity to gauge current form of the athletes and horses.

Of course, Vora may prefer an appeal either before a Division Bench of the High Court or the Supreme Court. As someone who sensed a chance to compete for India in the Olympics when the EFI posted the selection criteria and as someone who competed in six events (11 rides) in five weeks from mid-May, it is expected that she would appeal against the judgement.