Must Bring Curtain Down on Issues Concerning All India Football Federation: SC

The Supreme Court on Thursday said it must bring the curtain down on issues plaguing the All India Football Federation (AIFF), including the objections raised to certain aspects of its draft constitution.

“We must now bring the finality…I mean the curtain down on the issue related to the federation (AIFF),” a bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud said.

The bench, also comprising Justices P S Narasimha and J B Pardiwala, asked senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan, assisting it as an amicus curiae (friend of the court), to have a meeting with the counsels of all stakeholders and find out key objections to the draft constitution of AIFF.

“We will list it for hearing after the hearing of the Constitution bench concludes,” the bench said.

The amicus said everybody will have some kind of objections.

Responding to the query of the bench as to who is heading the AIFF currently after the elections, the amicus said Kalyan Chaubey, a former goalkeeper from West Bengal, is the president of the sports body.

“We do not know how this Chaubey has become the President. Mr. (Bhaichung) Bhutia was part of the list of 24 eminent sportspersons. This man (Chaubey) was not there. But he has been elected as the President,” Sankaranarayanan said.

Chaubey was elected the president in the elections conducted as per the order of the top court on September 2, 2022 at the Football House here.

Earlier, the bench had observed that the popular sport of football needs to be taken forward and asked people to give suggestions to the amicus curiae on the draft constitution for the sports national federation, observing that “we are doing anything except football”.

On November 9 last year, the bench had asked senior advocate Sankaranarayanan, who is assisting the bench as an amicus curiae, to tabulate the objections so that the draft constitution can be finalised.

Prior to this, the top court had directed the termination of the mandate of a three-member committee of administrators appointed by it in May last year to manage the affairs of the AIFF.

It had modified its earlier orders to facilitate the revocation of the suspension which was imposed on the AIFF by international football federation FIFA and the holding of the Under-17 Women’s World Cup 2022 in India.

On May 18 last year, the bench had appointed the panel headed by Justice (retired) Anil R Dave and having former chief election commissioner S Y Qureshi and former Indian football team captain Bhaskar Ganguly, and ousted NCP leader Praful Patel-led management committee that had exceeded its tenure by over two-and-half years.

However, this came in the way of the holding of the Under-17 Women’s World Cup 2022 as no elected AIFF body was at the helm.

On August 16 last year, FIFA had suspended India for “undue influence from third parties” and said the tournament “cannot currently be held in India as planned.”

The country, however, later hosted the FIFA event from October 11-30, 2022.

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