New Delhi, Oct 10: In a major relief to top doubles shuttler Jwala Gutta, the Delhi High Court Thursday directed the Badminton Association of India (BAI) to allow her to participate in tournaments and suspended the life ban on her.
Jwala moved the high court Wednesday, challenging the punishment of life ban on her recommended by the BAI disciplinary committee last week for delaying a match.
Justice V.K. Jain told the BAI: “You must allow her to play.” She was also allowed to participate in the upcoming Denmark Open Super Series Premier (Oct 15-20).
The court said: “….the impugned communication dated Oct 7, to the extent it stipulates that the petitioner (Jwala) will not be considered for participation in any national or international tournaments inside or outside India till, submission of the report of the newly constituted committee, is hereby stayed.”
After the recommendation of life ban, Jwala’s entry was withdrawn from the Denmark Open by the BAI. However, the court directed the association to forthwith withdraw that communication sent to the organisers of the tournament on withdrawing her name, and permit her to participate.
In a detailed order, the court said: “Till further orders of the Court, the BAI shall not withdraw the name of the petitioner from any tournament and shall duly consider her, subject to her being otherwise eligible, for participation in the national or international tournament, inside or outside India.”
The 2011 World Championship women’s doubles bronze medallist Jwala moved the court saying the disciplinary committee’s recommendation was issued in “violation of settled principles of natural justice and fairness, without giving a hearing to her”.
The court also pointed out that in the absence of the final order on the issue, the BAI’s decision not to allow the player to participate is “premature” and the association ought to have waited for the decision on the penalty to be imposed, “instead of taking such an extreme action in the meanwhile”.
“In the absence of a final decision on the penalty to be imposed upon the petitioner, the decision taken by the President/Secretary of BAI not to consider the petitioner for any national or international tournament inside or outside India would be rather premature,” Justice Jain said.
The disciplinary committee recommended that if Jwala apologises unconditionally, the BAI president may take a lenient view and consider relaxation of the punishment proposed.
The court noted that the emphasis in the committee’s report “appears to be more on the refusal to apologise and less on the nature of the misconduct attributed to her”.
During the hearing, senior advocate Shanti Bhushan, appearing for BAI, told the court that the decision taken by the association is right and Jwala has been playing below par for the last three years.
Gopal Jain, appearing for the 30-year-old Jwala, told the court in the plea: “The entire approach of the association was pre-determined and has been taken to single her out.” He also said that the BAI has threatened her with a life ban without reason or justification.
The plea, filed against the BAI and the sports ministry, sought quashing or setting aside the BAI’s ban order.
“Pass direction for ministry to seek an independent report of the incident and to put in place an independent regulatory mechanism to oversee the functioning of decision-making process of BAI in the absence of a proper procedure,” the plea said.
The plea also sought quashing of the alleged independent panel appointed by the BAI to look into the recommended life ban.
The disciplinary committee recommended a life ban on the Commonwealth Games gold medallist for trying to stop her team, Krrish Delhi Smashers, from playing Banga Beats in an Indian Badminton League (IBL) fixture in Bangalore Aug 25.
Delhi had threatened to pull out of the match over the last-minute replacement of injured singles player Hu Yun of Hong Kong with Denmark’s Jan O Jorgensen, a higher ranked shuttler.