The sports ministry on Monday decided to recommend ace shuttler Saina Nehwal for the Padma Bhushan award but insisted that it did not receive her nomination from the Badminton Association of India (BAI) within the stipulated deadline.
"In view of the achievements of Ms Saina Nehwal, the department of sports has decided to recommend her case for Padma Bhushan to the ministry of home affairs as a special case although the last date for making the recommendation is long over," the ministry said in a statement.
On Saturday, a disappointed Saina had stated that the Badminton Association of India (BAI) had recommended her name for the Padma Bhushan in August last year but the sports ministry rejected her application, citing norms.
But sports minister Sarbananda Sonowal refuted the claim, saying that his ministry received the letter of nomination only on Saturday.
The ministry on Monday reiterated its stand and said not just this year, it didn't receive any letter from BAI nominating Saina for the Padma awards in 2013 as well.
"The ministry had not received nomination in respect of Ms Saina Nehwal from Badminton Association of India or any other agency, for Padma Bhushan for 2014," the ministry said in a statement on Monday.
"It is also clarified that ministry had not received any nomination in respect of Ms Saina Nehwal last year either. So the question of department of sports intimating Ms Saina Nehwal that her nomination for Padma Bhushan was not recommended to the ministry of home affairs in 2013, as there has to be a gap of 5 years between two Padma Awards, does not arise.
"The ministry has since received the nomination of Ms Saina Nehwal for Padma Bhushan on 3rd January, 2015 from Badminton Association of India.
The ministry further added: "On 1st May, 2014, the ministry of home affairs invited nominations for Padma Awards. Last date for forwarding nominations to ministry of home affairs (MHA) was 15.09.2014.
"The department of sports circulated the MHA's letter to all the National Sports Federations/Sports Control Boards for sending the nominations of sportspersons and coaches to the department of sports by 20.08.2014."