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Bombay HC asks BAI to give wild card to national-level shuttler in international badminton tourney

In a special hearing held on Independence Day on Monday, the Bombay High Court’s Aurangabad bench directed the Badminton Association of India (BAI) to include national player Prathamesh Kulkarni’s name for wild card entry in an international tournament to be held in Pune.

The name of 18-year-old Kulkarni was not included in the list due to a clerical error on part of the BAI.

A division bench of Justices Ravindra Ghuge and Arun Pednekar in its order, which was made available on Tuesday, said Kulkarni cannot be faulted as he had submitted his application form online with correct details well before the deadline. The bench also noted that there was “bungling” and “error” committed by the BAI while handling Kulkarni’s form. Petitioner Kulkarni had informed the court that on August 15 the exercise of inclusion of names of eligible players for the tournament would conclude.

The bench said if there is no impediment, then Kulkarni would be entitled to play in the Pune tournament by giving him a wild card entry, subject to the rules of the Badminton Asia and Badminton World Federation. The HC said if Kulkarni misses the Pune tournament, then his entry shall be forwarded for participation in an upcoming tournament in Nagpur.

The court heard the petition filed by Kulkarni seeking to be included in the list of participants in the India Junior International Grand Prix-2022, to be held in Pune from August 30 to September 4, and the India Maharashtra International Challenge, to be held in Nagpur from September 13 to 18. Kulkarni sought direction from the BAI to generate a new and accurate ID so that he can participate in the tournament.

As per the plea, Kulkarni’s name was already included in the list of eligible candidates but due to a clerical error on the BAI’s part, his name was put in the female category and also there was an error in his date of birth. When Kulkarni sought for the same to be rectified and his name to be deleted from the female category and included in the male category, a BAI official acknowledged and deleted his name from the female category but did not include his name in the male category.

Since the date of form submission had passed, Kulkarni later sought to be included in the wild card quota. When there was no response, he moved the HC. The HC bench said it was convinced that Kulkarni’s form was “perfectly in order” when it was uploaded online well before the deadline of August 2. “It is clear that the petitioner (Prathamesh) cannot be faulted,” the high court said.

“Due to the bungling of respondent No 2 (BAI), the petitioner’s name is not in the list of qualified male players for the Pune event though he is not to be faulted. Repeated mistakes committed by respondent No 2 led to the said error and now the application of the petitioner is being treated as withdrawn,” the court said.

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