SC appoints CoA to run AIFF, wants 'expeditious polls'

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NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday appointed a three-member Committee of Administrators (CoA) headed by Apex Court Justice (retd) AR Dave to manage the affairs of the All India Football Federation (AIFF).

The CoA, which will also comprise two earlier members - Dr SY Qureshi, former Chief Election Commissioner and Bhaskar Ganguly, former captain of the Indian football team - has been directed to forthwith take charge of the AIFF and assist the court by providing inputs to the court in facilitating the adoption of the constitution by the AIFF in accordance with the National Sports Code and model guidelines.

PTI quotes a Bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, Surya Kant and PS Narasimha as ruling that the current state of affairs is not in the interest of proper governance of the federation.

The Bench said the CoA will prepare electoral rolls for the purpose of conducting elections to the executive committee of AIFF as per the constitution to be submitted by the two-member committee (ombudsman) of Qureshi and Ganguly.

"The committee of administrators shall carry out day-to-day governance of the All India Football Federation", PTI quoytes the Bench as having said, while adding that the CoA will be at a liberty to take the assistance of AIFF's erstwhile executive committee in holding of tournaments and selection of players and other affairs.

The Bench said the newly constituted CoA shall sit in Football House at Dwarka or any other place of convenience.

The top court clarified that this is pro-tem arrangement in order to facilitate the holding of elections and handing over the affairs to the democratically elected body in accordance with the constitution.

It added that it is anticipated the elections are held at the expeditious date.

AIFF elections
On the matter of AIFF's elections, Quraishi told PTI that the CoA will try to hold them within two to three months from the day the Supreme Court approves the new constitution, which he expects "to be done by July 30".

It means a new dispensation of the AIFF will likely not be installed before the FIFA Women’s Under-17 World Cup, which the country is hosting between October 11 and 30.

“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 further told PTI.

He added: “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.

“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 as per court orders, the CoA may take assistance from the earlier executive committee in holding tournaments and selecting teams.

Last Thursday (May 12), the Apex Court had agreed to hear a plea of Delhi Football Club, alleging the illegal continuation of AIFF president Praful Patel and the executive committee he leads. 

Patel had completed his three terms and 12 years as AIFF president in December 2020, the maximum permitted to a national sports federation chief under the Sports Code. 

The AIFF, however, did not hold the elections, citing a pending petition in the Supreme Court regarding its constitution.

After that, the Apex court has listed the matter for hearing on Wednesday. 

Earlier, the Union Sports Ministry had informed the Supreme Court that the Patel has no mandate to run the sports body, as he has served his three terms as president and the national body should hold elections without further delay. The Sports Ministry had filed an affidavit before the Apex Court on April 8 about the Special Leave Petition (SLP) in which lawyer Rahul Mehra is one of the respondents along with the Union of India.

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SC to hear case against Praful Patel, AIFF exco, on Wednesday