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SC to hear plea against continuation of committee heading AIFF

By PTI

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to hear a plea of Delhi Football Club alleging the illegal continuation of a committee and Praful Patel as president of All India Football Federation (AIFF) for over a decade.

A bench headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana 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 S Y Quraishi to prepare a Constitution for AIFF in accordance with the sports code. Even that has been done long ago..," Bhushan told the bench which also comprised justices Krishna Murari and Hima Kohli.

Because of the non-hearing, the same illegal committee has been continuing at the helm for over the last 10 years, he said, and sought a hearing next week.

"Ok, we will see," said the bench.

An interim application was filed by the Delhi Football Club in the pending appeal before the Supreme Court.

Earlier, the Sports Ministry filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court saying that Praful 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.

The affidavit was filed concerning a Special Leave Petition (SLP) filed by the AIFF, the sports ministry said Patel's tenure violated the Sports Code.

"...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 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 Apex 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 former Chief Election Commissioner of India S Y Quraishi and former national captain Bhaskar Ganguly as administrators and to formulate the AIFF constitution.

Patel has, however, said in the past that he cannot contest in any election of the AIFF but somehow the polls of the national federation have not been held due to reasons best known to the former union minister and his faction.

In February, at the AIFF AGM in Mumbai, Patel had finally agreed to constitute a committee to look into the matter.

The three-member committee was asked to submit their report in three months.

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