Ethically wrong for badminton selector Pullela Gopichand to run private academy, says Bombay High Court

Replying to a petition filed by shuttler Prajakta Sawant alleging that national badminton coach Pullela Gopichand was mentally harassing her, the Bombay High Court questioned how the former player was the chief of the selection committee and was also heading a private academy at the same time.

Updated: December 10, 2012 20:37 IST
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Hyderabad: Observing that "ethically" it was wrong for the Badminton Authority of India's (BAI) chief national coach and selection panel head Pullela Gopichand to run a private training academy, the Bombay High Court on Monday said it was not in the best interest of justice.

"Ethically, coach who also heads the selection panel should not run a private academy. He may be a good coach. We are not saying otherwise. But in the interest of justice and fairness, a national coach, also part of the selection panel, should not run a private camp," Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice A V Mohta said.

The court observed this while hearing a petition filed by 19-year-old Prajakta Sawant, who had alleged mental harassment by Gopichand after she was refused entry to the All India National Coaching Camp in Hyderabad.

Directing the petitioner to include BAI as respondent in the petition, the bench sought the authority's reply with regard to Gopichand's private academy. The matter will be heard next on December 19.

During the last hearing on November 6, the court had directed BAI to allow the girl to participate in the camp.

Sawant's lawyer Piyush Shah today told the court that when she went to the camp on November 17 the players had already left for China for a tournament.

Shah also said that there was another camp in January.

The bench then directed BAI to allow the girl to participate in the second camp. "BAI shall not take any action averse to the petitioner on the ground that she did not participate in the Hyderabad camp," the court said.

Meanwhile, India shuttler Jwala Gutta said that she is pleased with the observation of the Bombay High Court which questioned former player Gopichand and his role as a national selector while also running a private coaching academy.

Speaking to mediapersons, Jwala said that she has been questioning the dual-role for some time now, in her own way. "I have been asking the same question and I am happy the court acknowledged the same. It's (the questioning) a good thing and it (dual role of the national selector) shouldn't be this way. We don't allow professors to run private institutes, this is the same."

While the High Court has asked the Badminton Association of India for a reply on the matter, Jwala said that the federation should further look into the matter and ensure that it isn't repeated. "They should look into the whole matter and see that it is not repeated again. We should have an open discussion. Everybody should know what is happening because now, everything is out in the open. There should be transparency in all matters."

Sawant, a first year Bachelor of Commerce student, had stated in her petition that she was selected for the training camp from October 4 to December 12. However, she contended that she had asked for her doubles and mixed doubles partners to be changed and Gopichand had hence, nursed a grudge against her.

"On August 22, 2012, the petitioner (Sawant) had informed by e-mail to Gopichand that the petitioner is not comfortable playing with the mixed doubles and women's doubles partners. However, Gopichand made wild allegations against the petitioner that she was not serious about badminton," Sawant's petition stated.

Gopichand, Sawant's petition mentioned, had informed her telephonically before the camp began that she will not be allowed to participate in the camp.

(Related read: Gopichand leaves matter to concerned authorities)

(With PTI inputs)

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