Stay on AITA 'ban'

New Delhi: All India Tennis Association's (AITA) decision to oust Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna from the Indian team for two years suffered a jolt on Saturday when the Karnataka High Court put a stay order on the ban that the national body imposed on the two doubles star.

Hearing a writ petition filed by the duo challenging the two-year ban, Justice Mohan Shantanagoudar ordered issue of emergent notice to AITA and the Sports Ministry.

The judge also stayed the impugned decision of the AITA. Counsel Aditya Sondhi, representing the two players, submitted that the AITA decision was "arbitrary as it was taken without hearing them".

Bhupathi had challenged the ban issued by the AITA, terming it as unconstitutional and said that an opportunity had not been given. Further arguments on the matter are likely to come up next week.

AITA had taken the decision hours after India's young Davis Cup team took an unassailable 3-0 lead against New Zealand in Chandigarh on September 15.

Meanwhile, when asked about the decision of the High Court, Bhupathi's father Krishna Bhupathi refused to react, saying, "I will not comment as the matter is sub-judice".

AITA officials, however, remained unperturbed by the actions of Bhupathi and Bopanna and said the duo was never banned by the association.

"It is not right to say that we banned Mahesh and Rohan…We just decided not to select them for the Indian team," claimed a senior member of the executive committee. "When asked to explain, we will submit all these facts in front of the honourable court," he added.

Bhupathi and Bopanna were shown the door after both of them refused to accept the decision of the selection committee on the eve of Olympics.

While openly declining to partner Leander Paes in London, the duo forced AITA to send them as the second doubles team.