The Karnataka High Court on Saturday stayed the decision of the All India Tennis Association (AITA) not to consider tennis players Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna to represent India till the end of June 2014.
Justice Mohan Shantanagoudar passed the interim order during the hearing on the petitions filed by Mr. Bhupathi and Mr. Bopanna challenging the September 13 decision of the AITA’s Ethics Committee, which was approved by the Executive Committee on September 15.
The court has also ordered issue of notices to the AITA and the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports.
The alleged “ban,” by way of taking a decision not to consider them for selection to represent the country, was taken unilaterally, without any prior notice and without giving them an opportunity to be heard, argued their counsel Aditya Sondhi.
Interestingly, the petitioners have pointed out that it was Leander Paes who threatened to withdraw from the Olympics, and at no time have they (the petitioners) threatened to withdraw from the event and have consistently communicated their willingness to make themselves available to be nominated together for the Men’s Doubles event based on their preparations together.
“However, no action has been taken against Mr. Paes, who was the only one of the three players, including the petitioners, who threatened the AITA with withdrawal from the Olympics if his wish to be paired with either of the petitioners was not acceded to and made this decision known to the AITA in writing,” they have stated.
Pointing out that till today the AITA has not furnished copies of the decisions of both the committees, the petitioners claimed that it was through a press release that they came to know that action against them was taken as per AITA’s Rule 36(a)(ii), which relates to suspension of players not placing themselves at the disposal of the AITA when required to represent the country and declining to do so without good reason.
They further contended that Rule 36(a)(ii) is entirely inapplicable, particularly when they represented the country together in the Men’s Doubles event, at the Olympics based on the selection choice made by none other than the AITA.