‘To facilitate revocation of suspension by FIFA’: SC terminates mandate of its CoA for AIFF

The Supreme Court on Monday terminated the mandate of the Committee of Administrators (CoA) to manage the affairs of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) and also postponed the election, earlier scheduled on August 28, to the body by one week.

The top court said it is modifying its previous orders to facilitate the revocation of the suspension which has been imposed on the AIFF by the FIFA and the holding of the Under-17 Women’s World Cup 2022 in India.

A bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and A.S. Bopanna said: “The day-to-day management of the AIFF shall be exclusively looked after by the AIFF administration led by the Acting Secretary General. The mandate of the Committee of Administrators appointed by the order of this court stands terminated.”

It said the Executive Council (EC) of the AIFF shall consist of 23 persons: 17 members (inclusive of the President, a Treasurer and a Vice President) to be elected by the electoral college consisting of 35 Associations representing states/Union Territories, and 6 members shall be drawn from eminent players – comprising four men and two women.

It observed that the CoA has already submitted the draft Constitution, together with a tabulated set of suggestions, to the court on July 15.

The top court, in its order, said: “Time for the completion of the elections which were scheduled to take place on August 28, 2022 shall stand extended by a period of one week. The Returning Officers shall, within the said period, refix the modalities for the filing of nominations from the stage which was reached on August 13, 2022 and ensure that the elections are completed on schedule.”

It said returning officers (ROs) – Umesh Sinha and Tapas Bhattacharya – shall be deemed to be the ROs appointed by it for the purpose of conducting the elections, noting that there was no objection to their continuance by any of the contesting parties before it.

“The election programme, which was fixed in pursuance of the order dated August 3, 2022, is permitted to be modified by extending the date of election by one week; The voters’ list for the ensuing elections shall consist exclusively of representatives of the Member Associations representing the states/Union Territories (35+1 Associations),” it added.

The bench noted that in the event that the above process is not taken to its logical conclusion, the court would consider any further order at the subsequent stage.

“The Union Government is in active engagement with FIFA. By the order of this court dated August 17, 2022, the Union Government was entrusted with the task of finding a resolution to the impasse,” it noted.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, submitted that as a result of the proposed changes in the electoral college for the forthcoming election, the election which is scheduled on August 28, may be deferred by a week so that fresh nominations may be filed to reflect the change in the voters’ list. He added this is being necessitated since some of the nominations which may have been proposed or seconded by player members would become invalid as player members stand excluded from the voters’ list.

He said that the FIFA had the following concerns: The administration and management of the AIFF should be conducted by a duly elected body, and the electoral college for the forthcoming elections to the AIFF’s Executive Council should consist only of representatives of states/Union Territories member associations.

Detailing the FIFA’s conditions, he added that the AIFF Constitution should be revised in accordance with the requirements of the FIFA and the AFC, the election should take place at the earliest, and an elected body should exclusively commence administering the affairs of the AIFF.

The Centre, which had moved the apex court in connection with suspension of the AIFF by the FIFA, submitted that the EC would consist of 23 members of whom 17 members (inclusive of the President, a Treasurer and a Vice President) will be elected by the electoral college consisting of the representatives of the state associations/Union Territories.

Apart from the 17 members, there would be six eminent players (four male and two female) who would be co-opted to the EC with voting rights, it added.

The apex court, on May 18, had ousted Praful Patel as AIFF President for not holding elections due in December 2020. It appointed the three-member CoA, headed by former top court judge A.R. Dave, to manage the AIFF’s affairs. The CoA was also asked to frame AIFF’s constitution in line with the National Sports Code and model guidelines.

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