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BAI Directed to Prepare Guidelines for Sanctioning Tournaments

In a common order dated November 3, 2023, the Karnataka High Court directed respondent no. 2, Badminton Association of India (BAI), to prepare guidelines for consideration of applications seeking sanction of tournaments within 6 months.[1]

The petitioner, Bitsport Private Limited, approached the Karnataka High Court after the BAI refused to provide approval for the second edition of the Grand Prix Badminton League (GPBL), which was scheduled to be held from August 27, 2023, to September 9, 2023. In its petition, the said company also challenged the circulars issued by BAI, drawing attention to clause 21 of the BAI Constitution, which prohibits registered players, coaches, technical staff, and support staff from participating in tournaments not approved by BAI or its affiliated units.

Though the Court granted interim relief in August 2023, the BAI released a statement specifying that appropriate action would be taken if and when the writ petition fails. Consequently, several players pulled out of the GPBL tournament, which then had to be postponed indefinitely.

During the proceedings, it was submitted that, on account of its affiliation with the Badminton World Federation, the BAI was required to comply with the regulations of the international body, which cast an obligation on the members to make sure that their players did not participate in unsanctioned tournaments. After careful perusal of the regulations, the Court concluded that a blanket ban was not imposed. The Court reasoned that players other than top-ranked players could not be prevented from participating in unrecognised tournaments, and to address the same, the BWF regulations provided a mechanism where applications could be made to obtain sanctions for tournaments.

Hence, the Court directed the BAI to formulate guidelines for the acceptance of applications and sanctioning of tournaments in consultation with the BWF.

[1] Bitsport Private Limited & Ors. vs. Union of India & Anr. (WP No.15525 of 2023) and another case