Praful Patel has no mandate to continue as chairman of the All India Football Federation as he has already served three terms and the national body must hold elections without further delay, the Ministry of Sports has told the Supreme Court. In an affidavit to the Supreme Court on April 8 regarding a special leave (SLP) request filed by the AIFF, the Department of Sports said Patel’s tenure violated the Sporting Code. “…the term of the existing committee (of AIFF) has already passed, and the existing president (Praful Patel) has completed more than 12 years as president, petitioner (AIFF) is to hold elections without further delay according to the existing instructions that are included in accordance with the Sports Code and the instructions given from time to time by the responding respondent (Ministry of Sports),” the ministry’s affidavit said.
“That thus the tenure of an office holder of the Petitioner, such as the President, who has already served as President of AIFF for 12 years, shall be contrary to the Sports Code, in particular clause 9.3 (iii) of the Sports Code read with the notification of 01.05.2010.” Patel completed his three terms and 12 years as AIFF president in December 2020, the maximum allowed under the Sports Code for a head of a National Sports Federation (NSF).
However, the AIFF did not hold the election, citing a pending Supreme Court petition regarding the constitution.
The AIFF has filed a petition with the Supreme Court just a month before the elections were due to take place, seeking clarification on the status of the constitution, which has been under scrutiny in the Apex Court since 2017. The case is still pending.
The ministry also hinted that AIFF could lose its government recognition for failing to adhere to the sports code.
“Since the last elections held by the petitioner were on 21.12.2016, the petitioner as such is obliged to hold new elections. While recently the Responding Defendant (Ministry of Sport) extended the petitioner’s annual recognition (AIFF) for one year with effect of 11:10 p.m. 2020, such acknowledgment is subject to the outcome of the request for special leave pending in this honorable court.
In addition, the Responding Defendant (Ministry of Sports) has categorically stated in their renewal letter dated 23.10.2020 that the Petitioner (AIFF) must bring its Constitution in line with the provisions of the Sports Code within six months from the date of issue of the Sports Code. the ministry said in the affidavit.
In 2017, the Delhi Supreme Court had set aside the election of Patel as AIFF president (in the 2016 AGM) at the request of senior lawyer Rahul Mehra.
But the Supreme Court had suspended the Supreme Court’s decision, allowing Patel to continue in his role, while also appointing former Chief Election Commissioner of India SY Quraishi and former National Captain Bhaskar Ganguly as administrators and drafting the AIFF constitution.
However, Patel has said in the past that he cannot participate in an election of the AIFF, but somehow the National Federation polls have not been held.
In February, at the AIFF AGM in Mumbai, Patel had finally agreed to form a committee to investigate the matter.
The three-member committee was asked to submit their report within three months.
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