National badminton coach Pullela Gopichand’s lawyer Shiraz Rustomji told the Bombay High Court on Monday that the national coach would not be part of the selection process following Prajakta Sawant’s allegations of mental harassment and bias. The court has asked Gopichand to refrain from joining the Badminton Authority of India’s (BAI) selection committee as the 20-year-old Sawant was in line to participate in upcoming badminton tournaments until December.
Following the statement made on behalf of Gopichand,Sawant agreed to withdraw the allegations made against him and the BAI,Rustomji said. Chief justice Mohit Shah and justice Anoop Mohta asked the BAI to take into account Sawant’s performance over the last two years as the player has not been able to train for or participate in tournaments since October.
The court had earlier taken note of the fact that Sawant’s international ranking had dipped to 72 because she was not allowed to play for six months.
The court was informed that the Maharashtra government has sanctioned Rs 3 lakh towards Sawant’s sponsorship. However,Sawant could not avail the sponsorship as despite her selection for the All England championship held earlier this month,she could not obtain a visa to travel to the United Kingdom. The court has asked the state government to consider if the sponsorship can be used for Sawant’s training. Rustomji,however,said that Gopichand held no grudge against Sawant and was still willing to coach her professionally if she agrees to withdraw the allegations against him.
The BAI’s counsel Rajiv Chavan had told the court that the national coach is consulted only during the selection of players. However,in case of Sawant,Gopichand has agreed to stay away from the selection process.