December 6, 2021

AIFF approaches Supreme Court to seek clarification even as Executive Committee’s term winds down

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The current office-bearers could continue at the helm of the Indian FA even after the expiry of their term…

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) Executive Committee members could be set for an extension of their term beyond the end of 2020 when their stint was set to end. 

The Indian FA has approached the Supreme Court of India seeking a decision to such effect after the failure of a court-appointed team to draft a new constitution for the AIFF. The current AIFF Executive Committee, headed by President Praful Patel, was elected to office in 2016 and had the mandate to serve until December 2020. 

In October 2017, Delhi High Court annulled the election, stating that it was held without following the National Sports Code. The Supreme Court of India, shortly after, stayed the decision of the High Court but appointed a two-man committee to formulate a new AIFF constitution within eight weeks and then conduct elections. However, the court allowed the Executive Committee members to discharge their duties till then. 

Former Indian goalkeeper and captain, Bhaskar Ganguly, and former Chief Election Commissioner of India, SY Qureshi, were the members of the court-appointed committee. However, the committee has not been able to come up with a new constitution as per the court order and has applied for an extension of the deadline numerous times, most recently on 7 February 2020. 

It has been almost three years since the Ombudsmen have been tasked with drafting a new constitution and the matter is still pending. 

The constitution is yet to be submitted by the committee and in such a scenario, the Indian FA has been left with no choice but to approach the Supreme Court, asking for an extension to the current office-bearers’ term until the new constitution is finally completed. 

This scenario will see Praful Patel continue to lead the AIFF beyond 2020. 

The Indian FA are arguing that since there is no constitution that conforms to the Sports Code, it is not possible to conduct the elections when the current committee’s term ends on December 21, 2020. If the committee is not allowed to continue beyond their term and there is no legal election (due to the lack of a constitution), there is a chance that it will undermine the Indian FA’s standing in FIFA with the possibility of the global body handing out a ban for India.

The Indian FA in its plea, asked the court to ‘Allow the Executive Committee elected on 21st December, 2016 in its Annual General Body Meeting to continue to hold office till a new Executive Committee is formed pursuant to an Election conducted in accordance with the new Constitution and may be approved by the Hon’ble Court and /or Pass such order/orders as the Hon’ble Court may deem fit and proper in the fact and circumstances of the present case.’

The Indian FA are currently waiting for the Supreme Court to rule on this plea before deciding the future course of action.