Supreme Court shows red card to Praful Patel’s AIFF
The Supreme Court on Wednesday constituted a new Committee of Administrators (CoA) headed by former senior apex court judge Justice Anil Ramesh Dave to manage the affairs of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) temporarily and facilitate adoption of a new constitution for the soccer federation.
The new CoA, which includes former Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi and former India football captain Bhaskar Ganguly, will replace the present ad hoc administration headed by three-time federation president Praful Patel, a former Union minister.
The order, which was not uploaded till late Wednesday night, was passed by a bench of Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, Justice Surya Kant and Justice P.S. Narasimha, bringing reminiscences of a similar decision by the Supreme Court in 2015 to appoint a committee under Justice R.M. Lodha to streamline the functioning of the cash-rich Board of Control for Cricket in India.
The Justice Lodha committee had made far-reaching recommendations to the constitution of the BCCI in the wake of match-fixing allegations against the then BCCI president N. Srinivasan’s son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan, actress Shilpa Shetty’s husband Raj Kundra and others.
As per the order dictated in the open court on Wednesday, the bench has set the following terms for the CoA to carry out its exercise in assisting the top court to restore some professionalism in the football federation.
Justice Chandrachud, heading the bench, passed the following directions:
• The committee shall assist the court in evolving a new constitution for the federation.
• Manage the day-to-day affairs of the AIFF.
• Preparation of electoral rolls and elections in due course with the approval of the top court.
Justice Chandrachud, however, clarified that the present arrangement was “temporary” till a democratically-elected body assumes office. The court passed the directions on a special leave petition filed by the AIFF challenging a October 2017 order of Delhi High Court which had set aside the election of Patel as the president of the federation.
The high court had passed the impugned order on a petition filed by advocate Rahul Mehra, himself a sports enthusiast, alleging large-scale irregularities in AIFF and its failure to adhere to the rules framed under the National Sports Code.
The high court had passed the impugned order while agreeing with Mehra’s contention that the federation had not followed the sports code.
The apex court, while staying the high court order in 2017, had at that time appointed a committee comprising Quraishi and Ganguly. What it did on Wednesday was to reconstitute the committee with former Supreme Court judge Justice Dave as head of the CoA to streamline the board’s functioning and its constitution. “We will follow the court order to the T. We will start working the moment we get the court order,” Quraishi told The Telegraph.
“The draft constitution Bhaskar and I 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 should be completed by June 30. Then we will prepare a draft constitution to be submitted to the apex court by July 30,” he said.
Ganguly, who last week wrote a letter to Chief Justice of India NV Ramana urging the apex court to approve the constitution formulated by the panel and ask the AIFF to conduct elections, said he was satisfied by the order.
“It’s a collective effort. We (Dr Quraishi and himself) have done the first part. Now Justice Dave, Dr Quraishi and myself have been entrusted with a very important job,” he said. “The All India Football Federation respects the decision of the Honourable Supreme Court. We await the full order to be in a better position to assess the next steps,” AIFF tweeted on Wednesday evening.