Father's court bid hit for six

2014-01-23 12:04
Cricket ball
Durban - A parent’s court bid to have his son reinstated as first team cricket captain of a prestigious private school failed on Wednesday when a judge hit his application for a six, The Witness reports.

Pietermaritzburg parent Pranesh Indrajith had turned to the high court in an attempt to have his son, Pavishkar, reinstated as team captain at St Charles College after he was removed last January.

Pietermaritzburg high court Judge Rashid Vahed dismissed Indrajith’s application to force the school and its principal, Allen van Blerk, to restore the captaincy to the youngster.

He said the court did not have the power to intrude on the internal affairs of the school.

The application had in any event become moot because Pavishkar Indrajith completed his schooling last year.

Legal sources say a ruling in Indrajith’s favour would have set a precedent that may have encouraged more parents to litigate whenever they disagreed with decisions taken by school teachers or coaches.

The judge also came out in support of St Charles coach Dave Karlsen, saying he believed his decision to drop Pavishkar Indrajith as first team captain was “properly taken, following proper procedure”.

“The facts reveal that Karlsen believed he had good grounds to drop Pavishkar.

“Those were based on the loss of form subsequent to the end of the third term in 2012.”

The judge said Karlsen consulted with Van Blerk and then followed procedure.

“The committee which ultimately took that decision met, and the team sheet which reflected that decision, was countersigned by all the members of the committee,” he said.

He said an attempt had been made by Indrajith to “cast doubt over these facts” but he’d “failed dismally”.

“Interfering with that decision would accordingly, be an intrusion into the private affairs of the school and would be educationally unsound,” said Judge Vahed.

Allegations that racism could have been behind the move to drop Pavishkar Indrajith as first cricket team captain were also dismissed as unproven by Vahed.

“As the battle lines became more clearly delineated the allegations concerning the decision to drop Pavishkar from the first cricket team became infected and blurred with racial overtones (Pavishkar is Indian and the cricket coaching team and the majority of the members of the cricket team are white),” the judge said.

There were assertions that the panel that took the decision to drop Pavishkar was not properly constituted, he said.

“None of this was established or proved in the matter and nothing more needs to be said on those scores,”
Vahed said.

In an earlier report on the issue, the father said the principal’s finding that his son was in poor form, scoring 0, 0, 2, 0, 0 and 4 in his last six innings, was nonsense.

Andrew Dickason of ER Browne Incorporated, who represented St Charles College, said the school was pleased to have the unfortunate matter behind it.

“By concluding that interference in the decisions made by our client would be an unwarranted intrusion into our client’s private affairs and educationally unsound, the court has vindicated the stance that our client has maintained throughout these proceedings,” he said.

Principal van Blerk said: “The judgment reinforces several critical pillars for independent education, including the right to pursue excellence and to preserve the educational nature of sport.

“It is always reassuring to find that sense prevails in the end and I am grateful for the excellent counsel we received and the tremendous moral support from friends within and outside South Africa.”

Indrajith’s lawyers, Subash Maikoo & Associates, said Indrajith would not comment on the verdict until he and his son, and those representing them, could “properly peruse the judgment and the reasons for it”.

In his judgment, Judge Vahed extracted a quote from an article by Lisa Endlich Hefferman in The Atlantic, a US magazine on the Internet, which he said captured the “subliminal message” conveyed by Indrajith’s application even though it wasn’t expressly stated in the papers.

The extract reads: “The aching desire to win can be seen on the sidelines of competitions even among the youngest participants. Parents pace the sidelines, twitching at every kick or pitch or shot of the ball, shouting exhortations at their children and the team.

“I have watched parents cover their eyes, unable to watch, such is the stress they feel. In many cases it becomes clear that it is the parents who want to win … As parents we so identify with our kids that their success quickly becomes our own. As spectators, parents seek confirmation even at the earliest stages that great athletic possibilities exist for their child: a better team, starting spot, varsity experience or college scholarship”.

How the story unfolded:

May, 2013

Lawyer Pranesh Indrajith serves legal documents on St Charles College and its headmaster, Allen van Blerk.

May 18, 2013

Van Blerk says the school and KZN Inland Cricket Union president have entered into a formal mediation process in the hope of settling the dispute.

June 19, 2013

Indrajith threatens to sue the boy’s coach Dave Karlsen for R2,1m.

June 10, 2013

The head of cricket at St Charles, Bruce Roberts is fired for speaking out over the removal of the school’s first team cricket captain in January.

July, 2013

The dispute between St Charles College and Roberts is referred to the CCMA. He later reaches a settlement.

September 24, 2013

Judge Rashid Vahed hears legal argument and reserves judgment on Indrajith’s application.

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