The Delhi High Court has set aside the election of the office-bearers of the All India Football Federation (AIFF), including its President Mr. Praful Patel, while calling for a fresh election within five months.
In the meantime, the Bench comprising Justice S. Ravindra Bhat and Justice Najmi Waziri has appointed former Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi as the administrator.
The Court was hearing a Petition filed by sports activist Mr. Rahul Mehra, who had contended that the elections, which were held in December last year, violated the National Sports Code. The Sports Code is a set of guidelines issued by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports in 2011, to ensure that National Sports Federations (NSFs) dependent on government funding are made accountable and transparent.
Mr. Mehra had pointed out that while the Sports Code made it mandatory for each candidate to be nominated by one member association and seconded by another member, the AIFF had stipulated that each candidate had to be nominated by five member associations.
It was further brought to the notice of the Court that the Electoral College was shared just 9 days before the proposed elections, thereby, violating the requirement of providing the College at least 30 days before the proposed elections. The Electoral Roll was also allegedly changed on the day of casting of votes.
Agreeing with such contentions, the Court ruled, "The Court is of the view that: (i) in the absence of the list of the Electoral College having been shared with the candidates; (ii) the requirement of five voting members as per the schedule of the applicant Society; (iii) the non-adherence to the format specified / mandated in the National Sports Code; (iv) prevention of certain members from participating fully in the elections, in particular - the Delhi Football Association, the elections cannot be held to be valid in terms of the National Sports Code...
... The Court is of the view that insofar as 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 elections of the AIFF declared on 21.12.2016 would have to be set aside. It is so ordered."
Fresh elections were then directed to be conducted, in compliance with the Model Guidelines contained in the Sports Code. Mr. Quraishi was further directed:
" (i) To resolve the issue of disaffiliation of members/units of AIFF as on 30th November, 2016 and to prepare the Electoral List, within a month by giving the concerned parties two weeks’ notice;
(ii) Elections shall be held in six weeks after the preparation of the Electoral college. This elected body shall carry out the requisite amendments to the AIFF Constitution to bring it in conformity with the National Sports Code.
(iii) Once the AIFF Constitution has been amended, a fresh round of elections shall be carried out in terms of the National Sports Code, to ensure that age and tenure restrictions along with the provision for due representation of the sportspersons are strictly complied with.
(iv) The AIFF shall make available to the Administrator an appropriate office space and facilities for the discharge of the aforesaid directions and make available such staff and personnel as the Administrator may express the need for. Alternatively, the Administrator may appoint such personnel to assist him in the aforesaid matter and expenses towards the same shall be borne by the AIFF.
(v) Till the elections are conducted and results declared in consonance of the National Sports Code and in compliance with the preceding directions, the AIFF shall not make any new financial commitments except with the prior approval of the Administrator. Routine expenses of AIFF too shall be defrayed, only with the prior approval of the Administrator. The entire exercise will be completed within five months from the date the Administrator assumes charge;
(vi) However, to obviate any impediment in the conduct of any competitive tournament that may have been scheduled by the applicant, this order shall come into effect after two weeks from today."