Express News Service
CHENNAI: Finally, the Supreme Court asked Committee of Administrators to (CoA) to take charge of All India Football Federation and paved way for election under a new constitution adhering to the sports code. This ends AIFF president Praful Patel and his executive council’s term, officially.
The three-judge bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, Surya Kant and PS Narasimha said that the CoA would take charge forthwith and will be headed by retired judge AR Dave to manage the day to day affairs of the federation. According to the bench, the CoA will have two members who were appointed earlier — Dr SY Qureshi, former Chief Election Commissioner and Bhaskar Ganguly, former captain of the Indian football team.
There was confusion regarding the status of AIFF president Praful Patel, who had completed his 12-year tenure as mandated by the Sports Code in 2020 but was continuing because the Supreme Court had not heard an AIFF petition. However, according to experts, the CoA would be taking day-to-day decisions of the AIFF but would be assisted by the executive committee from its headquarters in Dwarka, New Delhi.
Senior advocate who specializes in sports, Rahul Mehra, who had been objecting to AIFF functioning because its constitution was in violation of the sports code and a petitioner, said the court had asked the CoA to take charge and look after the daily functioning of the federation . “I had suggested to the honorable court and they had directed that the CoA would take of the AIFF functioning with the assistance of its executive committee,” said Mehra.
The senior advocate also said that the court was approved of the AIFF’s position and suggested the court to appoint a third member, preferably a retired judge to head the already two existing members — Quereshi and Ganguly.
This also includes the selection of India team and hosting tournaments. The court had also directed that the election be held without much loss of time. But before that, the constitution needs to be in order and as per the sports code.
According to Mehra, three things are going to take place after the SC directive. Whatever objections or suggestions all parties (aggrieved or otherwise) have to be submitted to the CoA by June 30 (constitution finalization date) who would then place it before the Supreme Court on July 30. “The constitution will be finalized after that and the election would take place as per the new rules,” he said.
The CoA, apart from setting the constitution right, would also prepare the electoral rolls and would conduct the elections. Mehra also pointed out that this suggests that the existing EC cannot take any decision and CoA is in charge ‘forthwith’.
The AIFF had been functioning without holding elections after Patel ended his 12-year tenure in 2020. This violation of the sports code was brought to the notice of the court on May 12 by senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan and the court agreed to hear the matter on May 18.
For AIFF, it was inevitable after the sports ministry told the court in an affidavit that Patel’s term was over after 12 years (in 2020) and AIFF should conduct elections without any delay.
AIFF moved an application in SC a month before its elections were due in 2020 and sought clarifications on the status of its constitution.
The constitution was in review since 2017 after Delhi HC had set aside the election of Patel as AIFF president (in the 2016 AGM).
Petition was filed by senior advocate Rahul Mehra.
SC later stayed the HC decision and allowed Patel to continue in his role.
At the same time SC appointed Qureshi and Ganguly as administrators to look into the constitution and submit suggestions.