Bengaluru, November 6: The Delhi High Court last week (October 31) set aside the elections of the All India Football Federation for breach of the National Sports Code. While doing so, it removed the serving AIFF office-bearers, including president Praful Patel, from their respective posts, just three days after India hosted the Under-17 World Cup. It appointed an administrator, former chief election commissioner SY Quraishi, to govern AIFF for five months beginning from November 14.
The court had earlier allowed the elections to continue subject to a final application, or report, from AIFF on how the process was conducted. Needless to say, the Delhi HC wasn't satisfied with the way the AIFF polls took place.
"The court is of the view that the rules of the AIFF are in breach of the National Sports Code and the model guidelines for the conduct of elections. The results of the AIFF elections, declared on December 21, 2016, would have to be set aside," said the bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Nazmi Waziri in their order dated October 31, 2017.
What did the AIFF do wrong?
The court found fault with three things on part of the AIFF:
How did AIFF defend the charges?
The AIFF simply said it was following the process for the election of the FIFA president. It also added that its process adheres to the National Sports Code.
It backed itself by pointing out the Article 13 of the Election of the FIFA President: "The candidate has to be proposed by a member association. The candidate shall present declarations of support from at least five members."
AIFF said that the National Sports Code requires it to be affiliated with FIFA. And to be affiliated with FIFA, AIFF has to mandatorily follow FIFA's code.
AIFF conceded to not sending the electoral college within the stipulated deadline of 30 days. "As regards the electoral college, the petitioner states that the same was not properly prepared because complaints have been lodged with the Returning Officer by the Goa Football Association, Delhi
Soccer Association, Haryana Football Association, Telengana Football Association and Uttar Pradesh Football Sangh, etc," the court order states.
What went against AIFF?
Rahul Mehra, a sports activist and also the petitioner in the case, pointed out flaws in the AIFF's argument.
'Rules are for FIFA president's election'
The court snubbed the AIFF by saying that a candidate has to be backed by five associations only for the post of the FIFA president. It said that the AIFF is not forced to follow the same process for its election and directed it to adhere to the process laid down by the National Sports Code. In this process, a candidate has to proposed by a member and supported by another, instead of five.
"There is nothing on record to show that the same method of voting as FIFA is essential for the member associations of FIFA (AIFF in this case)," the court said. "Hence, it will have to be disregarded, especially since it is not in consonance with the National Sports Code."
What's the order?
Senior vice-president's malpractice
Goa Football Association alleged that Subrata Dutta, the senior vice-president of the AIFF breached ethics when he sent out a mail to all member associations giving a list of the proposed executive committee members. GFA says this mail instructed all members to fill up their nomination forms supporting the proposed members. This mail was sent on November 26, indicating there may not be need for any elections at all.
The Goa Football Association additionally said the electoral college was shared on November 23, 2016. It added that the name of the returning officer, to who the nominations have to be sent to, was not intimated 30 days before the elections. The AIFF informed its associations only on November 25, 2016, and provided a landline number on November 30, 2016. The landline number was incorrect, the GFA claimed.
Finally, the background
The AIFF's application was filed in a pending petition of sports activist and advocate Rahul Mehra contending that the elections of the federation were held contrary to the National Sports Code.
Mehra had contended that while the code made it mandatory for each candidate to be nominated by a member association and seconded by another, the AIFF had stipulated that each candidate was to be nominated by five member associations.
He also pointed out differences in the electoral college list as well as the complaints raised by Goa Football Association over it.
(With PTI inputs)