The Supreme Court appointed a three-member Committee of Administrators (CoA) to manage the affairs of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) and oversee the adoption of its constitution in line with the National Sports Code. A bench, composed of Justices DY Chandrachud, Surya Kant and PS Narasimha, named former judge AR Dave as the head of the CoA with two earlier members -- former Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi and former Indian football team skipper Bhaskar Ganguly -- as the other two members.
The CoA will try to hold the AIFF elections within two or three months after the Supreme Court approves the new constitution, Quraishi was quoted as saying by PTI.
Quraishi and Ganguly were made administrators by the Supreme Court in 2017 to formulate the constitution of the AIFF in line with the National Sports Code. They submitted a draft constitution in a sealed cover to the Supreme Court in January 2020.
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“The earlier executive committee of the AIFF is no longer there after today’s SC order. The SC asked us to take charge immediately, so as soon as we get the court order we will assume charge, speak to each other and chalk out our course of action,” Quraishi was quoted by the PTI in its report.
“The draft constitution I and Bhaskar had submitted in a sealed cover to the SC in early 2020 will be opened now and comments and suggestions will be sought from all the stakeholders. That is expected to be completed by June 30. Then we will prepare a draft constitution to be submitted to the SC,” he added.
“Of course, the new constitution will have to be approved by the SC and we can expect that to be done by July 30. After that we will start the election process. It may take two to three months after July 30 to have a new set of office bearers.” Quraishi said.
“The official set-up (secretariat) as also the AIFF general secretary are not affected (by the SC order). We will sit at the Football House in Dwarka and we hope they will assist us wholeheartedly and honestly in our job.”
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Earlier, while making the appointment, the Supreme Court Bench said the current state of affairs at the AIFF is not in the interest of good governance.
It directed the CoA to take charge and assist the court by providing inputs in facilitating the adoption of the constitution by the AIFF.
"The committee of administrators shall carry out day-to-day governance of the All India Football Federation", the bench said in its order, adding the CoA will be at liberty to take the assistance of the erstwhile committee in football matters such as holding tournaments and selection of players.
On May 12, the Supreme Court had agreed to hear a plea by the Delhi Football Club which contested that the continuation of a committee and Praful Patel as president of the AIFF for over a decade was illegal. The SC was told by lawyer Prashant Bhushan that an illegal committee is continuing to head the AIFF due to the non-hearing of a petition of the football body against the 2017 decision of the Delhi High Court.
"In 2017, the last election of the football federation was set aside by the Delhi High Court. When an SLP was filed in this court, this court appointed a committee headed by former election commissioner and sports secretary Qureshi to prepare a Constitution for AIFF in accordance with the sports code. Even that has been done long ago..," Bhushan had said.
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Earlier, the Sports Ministry filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court saying that Patel has no mandate to continue as the AIFF president as he has already served three terms and the national body should hold elections without further delay.
"...the term of the existing committee (of AIFF) is already over, and the existing president (Praful Patel) has completed more than 12 years as president, the petitioner (AIFF) should hold elections without further delay as per extant instructions contained under Sports Code and the instructions issued by the answering respondent (sports ministry) from time to time," the ministry's affidavit said.
Patel completed his three terms and 12 years as AIFF president in December 2020, the maximum permitted to a national sports federation (NSF) chief under the Sports Code.
The AIFF, however, did not hold the elections, citing a pending petition in the Supreme Court regarding its constitution.
The AIFF had moved an application in the Supreme Court only a month before its elections were due, seeking certain clarifications on the status of its constitution, which was under scrutiny in the top court since 2017.
In 2017, the Delhi High Court had set aside the election of Patel as AIFF president (in the 2016 AGM) on a petition by senior advocate Rahul Mehra.
But the Supreme Court had stayed the high court decision, allowing Patel to continue in his role, while also appointing Quraishi and Ganguly as administrators and to formulate the AIFF constitution.
(With inputs from PTI)
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