The Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court in a special hearing on Independence Day held an 18-year-old badminton player was entitled to a wild card entry for an international tournament to be held in Pune from August 30 as his name was not included in the list of eligible male players due to “repeated mistakes” by Badminton Association of India (BAI).
Prathamesh Kulkarni, through advocates Amol Joshi and Sanket A Jadhav, had told the court that the exercise of inclusion of names of eligible players in India Junior International Grand Prix 2022 to be held in Pune was to conclude by 5 pm Monday and sought an urgent relief.
The high court noted if there is no impediment, then the petitioner would be entitled to play in Pune from August 30 to September 4 by giving him a wild card entry if permissible and subject to the policies or guidelines of Badminton Asia or Badminton World Federation (BWF).
The bench said that in the event Kulkarni misses the Pune tournament, based on the statement made by the BAI in its affidavit, his entry would be forwarded to participate in another tournament, India International Challenge, to be held from September 13 to 18 in Nagpur by “virtue of confirmation” to enable him to play in the same.
A division bench of Justice Ravindra V Ghuge and Justice Arun R Pednekar noted that Kulkarni “cannot be faulted” as he had submitted his application form online with correct details well before the deadline and due to the “bungling” of the BAI, his name was not in the list of qualified male players for Pune event.
The petitioner had sought direction to the BAI to generate a new and accurate BWF ID so as to enable him to participate in the Pune event. The plea said that Kulkarni was presumed to be a female player and enlisted in the female category initially.
The mistake was immediately corrected and his name was deleted from the list of female players. However, his name was not entered in the male category and there were mistakes with regard to his date of birth.
The court noted that the petitioner’s application for both Pune and Nagpur events was made prior to the August 2 deadline and contents including name, date of birth, gender and ranking were correctly uploaded by him in the form.
On August 11, when the petitioner checked his entry, he found that his name was deleted from the female list but it was not entered in the male list. He approached the high court stating that he did not want to blame anyone but to rectify the situation, he should be included in the ‘wild card’ quota.
“Repeated mistakes committed by respondent BAI led to the said error and now the application of the petitioner is being treated to have been withdrawn… It is clear that the petitioner cannot be faulted…we hold that if there is no impediment, the petitioner would be entitled to play at Pune from August 30 by giving him a wild card entry, if permissible. However, this would be subject to the policies or guidelines of Badminton Asia/BWF,” the bench held.
It warned the BAI to not make any further mistake with regard to the petitioner and disposed of the plea.