Praful Patel's term as president of the AIFF comes to an end

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A file image of Praful Patel.

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Praful Patel's term as president of the AIFF comes to an end

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SportsCafe Desk

05/19/2022

The Supreme Court on Wednesday nominated a three-member Committee of Administrators (CoA) to handle the operations of the All-India Football Federation (AIFF), led by former top court judge Anil R Dave and dismissed Praful Patel, who had been in charge for two years longer than his four-year term.

The top court ordered the three-member committee to take over AIFF immediately, and the previous committee to serve as a consultant in the execution of CoA tasks including competitions and player selection.

"The CoA is now reformed to comprise of the following members-Justice (retd) Anil R Dave, Dr. SY Qureshi, former Chief Election Commissioner, and Bhaskar Ganguly, former captain of the Indian Football Team," stated a bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud, Surya Kant, and PS Narasimha. The executive committee elections, which were held on December 21, 2016, were ruled invalid by the Delhi High Court on October 31, 2017, according to the bench's judgment. The execution of the challenged High Court judgment, including the orders granted in the decision, was stayed while the pendency of these actions before the highest court, according to an interim ruling of November 10, 2017.

"The consequence of the order of the stay is that though the normal tenure of the elected body would in any event would come to an end on December 20, 2020, following the expiry of its four-year term, the body has continued to govern the affairs of the AIFF despite the expiry of its term. Such a state of affairs is imminently not in the interest of the proper governance of the All India Football Federation", it said. The bench said, "hence we are of the view that the two-member committee of administrators which has been appointed by the order of this court dated November 10, 2017, with a specific mandate as noted in the order is expanded and the mandate of the committee is similarly broadened".

The bench stated that the CoA shall promptly take charge of all the matters of the AIFF and carry on the function of assisting this court and providing its inputs in the current proceedings in order to enable the implementation of the constitution after the objections/ recommendations have been properly considered. The bench said, "the committee at the present stage shall prepare the electoral rolls for the electoral college for conducting the elections to the executive committee in accordance with the provisions of the constitution as proposed subject to further directions as may be passed by this court after hearing all the parties".

It added, "the committee shall carry out day-to-day governance of the affairs of the AIFF and in discharging its task, the committee would be at liberty to take the assistance of the erstwhile committee of AIFF which had continued in office till the date of this order in order to facilitate proper decision being taken inter alia on the holding of tournaments, selection of players and all other ancillary matters necessary for the governance of the federation". The previous committee, which will be replaced by the conditions of the current ruling, will pass over the charge to the CoA, according to the bench. It was stressed that these are pro-tem procedures to assist the staging of elections and the handover of power to a democratically elected body in accordance with the constitution that will be enacted.

"It is anticipated that the entire process of conducting the elections should be completed at the expeditious date after the constitution is finalised", the bench said. To begin, the Supreme Court authorised the committee of Qureshi and Ganguly, which it appointed on November 10, 2017, to submit its report, and stated that the constitution produced by the panel, which had been ordered to be sealed, would now be accessible to all parties for circulation. It said that any objections or recommendations to the constitution given by the committee would be evaluated only by this court, and that the final judgement would be issued after the objections or ideas were considered.

It said that any complaint or recommendation to the proposed constitution must be filed in this court by June 30, 2022, and that the CoA must review the complaints/recommendation and provide its input by July 15. Senior attorney Rahul Mehra stated at the beginning that these bodies are fiefdoms in which "you scratch my back and I scratch your back." Senior counsel Shyam Divan, who represented the executive committee, said that these are self-governing groups that must be managed correctly since they risk losing FIFA recognition just as India prepares to host the Football World Cup.

On May 12, the Supreme Court consented to hear the Delhi Football Club's complaint claiming the unconstitutional continuance of a committee and Praful Patel's presidency of the AIFF for more than a decade. The Sports Ministry had previously filed an application in the Supreme Court claiming that Patel does not have a mandate to remain as AIFF president after serving three terms and that the national organisation should hold elections immediately. Patel served as AIFF president for three terms and 12 years, the maximum allowed by the Sports Code for a national sports organisation (NSF) president. The AIFF, on the other hand, did not hold elections because to a pending Supreme Court appeal about its constitution.

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