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AIFF and Praful Patel ‘Misled’ Members Regarding Elections at December 2020 AGM

Jaydeep Basu |
There are members who allege the All India Football Federation (AIFF) bosses are deliberately stalling elections to keep its president Praful Patel in power. They are misleading the members with false claims over the status of SY Quraishi’s report regarding compliance with the National Sports Code 2011.
aiff elections and legal battle

The AIFF elections were scheduled to be held in December 2020.

In November 2017, when the Supreme Court of India appointed a two-member committee headed by SY Quraishi to formulate a new constitution of the All-India Football Federation (AIFF) in compliance with the National Sports Code 2011, few imagined the issue would generate so much heat and controversy even after four and half years.

The apex court directed the committee to prepare a draft constitution -- the intention certainly was to make the running of the game in India better. While the draft constitution is yet to see the light of the day, the controversy surrounding it has made Indian football murkier.

Armed with the directive, the AIFF moved court in November 2020 and hasn’t conducted its elections even though it is due for more than 16 months now. On various platforms, time and again, the AIFF claimed the Quraishi committee was yet to submit its report and in the absence of a court-approved new constitution, the federation was in no position to hold elections and it would amount to contempt of court.

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Not everyone within the AIFF is speaking in unison. There are members who allege the federation bosses are deliberately stalling elections to keep its president Praful Patel in power; and to do it, they are misleading the members with false claims over the status of Quraishi’s report. There is evidence available that could make one ponder whether the AIFF, in its annual general meeting (AGM) in December 2020 that was chaired by Patel, truly and deliberately misled and misinformed the members on this issue.

While Quraishi had been maintaining for a long time that he submitted his report (albeit three-year late) in January 2020, the AIFF, in a letter to the state associations on November 23, 2020, said: “The Ombudsmen (SY Quraishi and Bhaskar Ganguly) filed an application on 7th February 2020 with the honourable Supreme Court, seeking enlargement of time for submission of the draft constitution of AIFF which is still pending adjudication before the honourable court.

“Due to non-finalisation of its constitution in terms of the order dated 10th November 2017 passed by the honourable Supreme Court of India, the AIFF is not in a position to conduct the ensuing election….”

The federation further explained its stand during the virtual AGM on December 21, 2020, where Patel clearly said the Quraishi’s committee had failed to submit the report till February 2020 and has asked for an extension.

To quote from the minutes circulated to AIFF members who attended the meeting, Patel, in his address said: …”the ombudsmen could not submit the report to the honourable Supreme Court and as late as February 2020 filed an application seeking enlargement of time to submit the draft constitution along with its report.”


This is where the members allege Patel misinformed the members. “We are not sure whether the federation chief said it deliberately or he was misled by AIFF’s legal team. But the house stood misinformed and it was a mistake, which was never rectified. It’s a violation of the AIFF constitution,” said one of the members a few months later.

The member’s allegation was based on the fact that Quraishi and his committee, contrary to AIFF president’s claims, did submit its report on February 7, 2020, where it asked the court to extend the eight-week timeframe as it was late in preparing the report for various reasons.

It said: “The present application is being filed seeking appropriate directions from this honourable court thereby, inter alia, enlarging the time for submitting the draft constitution of the AIFF before this honourable court as stipulated in the said Order dated 10.11.2017.”

The application further said: “It is submitted that the counsel for the Ombudsman had, after preparation of the draft constitution, orally mentioned the matter before the honourable court on 16.12.2019 seeking permission to place the same on record in sealed covers, when the honourable court indicated that a formal application be moved in this regard. The present application is being filed pursuant thereto.” This makes ample clear that the draft constitution had been submitted with the application.

On AIFF’s claim, Quraishi himself had told Newsclick: “This is an absolute distortion of facts. We had submitted the draft constitution and that’s it. I don’t know why the AIFF wrote such a letter to its members and I have no interest to know also.” 

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Why and how this document was not taken into consideration during the crucial AGM in December 2020, where it was decided not to go ahead with the elections, remains a mystery. To say the AIFF was not in possession of the report during the meeting would be hard to believe since a part of Quraishi’s application was used by Patel during the meeting to convince members of the difficulty of holding elections.

One of the members who wrote to AIFF in December 2020 demanding elections in time but later backtracked, said: “Having seen Quraishi’s application now, I feel we were made to look like a bunch of fools for the benefit of a particular individual. I really don’t know why we were told the draft constitution was not ready. Now, I came to know that some senior officials were even aware of the salient points in the draft constitution. Then why were the members kept in the dark? Someone must answer this.”

Well, no one is actually interested in satisfying the member’s rather legitimate query.  Sources in the federation said that despite immense pressure from various quarters, the AIFF top brass would do everything to stall the elections indefinitely. Some within the federation would positively not feel uncomfortable if the court battle turns into a prolonged affair.

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