SC appoints CoA to manage affairs of AIFF, oust Praful Patel led executive committee

The Supreme Court Wednesday appointed a three-member Committee of Administrator (CoA) headed by former top court judge Anil R Dave to manage the affairs of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) and ousted Praful Patel led the executive committee which has been at the helm for two-years more than its tenure of four years.

The top court asked the three-member committee to immediately take charge of AIFF and asked the erstwhile committee to play a consultative role in the discharge of the functions of the CoA like holding tournaments and selection of players.

A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, Surya Kant, and PS Narasimha said, “The CoA is now reconstituted to consist 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”.

The bench said in its order that the elections to the executive committee which was held on December 21, 2016, were set aside by the judgement of the Delhi High Court dated October 31, 2017.

It noted that during the pendency of these proceedings before the top court, by an interim order dated November 10, 2017, the operation of the impugned judgement of the High Court was stayed including the directions given in the verdict.

“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”.

Giving the mandate, the bench said that the CoA shall take charge of all the affairs of the AIFF immediately and shall carry on the function like it shall assist this court and provide its inputs in the course of the present proceedings so as to facilitate the adoption of the constitution after the objections/ suggestions are duly 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 bench said that the erstwhile committee which shall stand superseded by the terms of the present order will hand over the charge to the CoA. It clarified, that these are pro-tem arrangements in order to facilitate the holding of elections and the handing over the affairs to the democratically elected body in terms of the constitution which will be adopted.

“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.

At the outset, the top court allowed the committee of Qureshi and Ganguly constituted by it on November 10, 2017, to submit its report and said that the constitution as drafted by the panel which has been directed to be placed in sealed cover shall now be open for circulation to all the parties.

It said any objection or suggestions to the constitution as proposed by the committee shall be considered only by this court and the final judgement will thereafter be rendered, after considering the objections or suggestions as received.

It said that any objection or suggestion to the constitution as proposed shall be filed in this court no later than on or before June 30, 2022, and the CoA shall examine the objections/suggestions and give its inputs by July 15.

At the outset, senior advocate Rahul Mehra said that these bodies are fiefdoms and it is like “you scratch my back and I scratch your back”.

Senior advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for the executive committee, said that these are self-governed bodies and need to be handled properly as they may get derecognised by FIFA at the time when India is going to conduct the Football World Cup.

On May 12, the top court had agreed to hear a plea of the Delhi Football Club alleging the illegal continuation of a committee and Praful Patel as president of AIFF for over a decade.

Earlier, the Sports Ministry filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court saying that Patel has no mandate to continue as AIFF president as he has already served three terms and the national body should hold elections without further delay.

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.

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