Supreme Court dissolves CoA of All Indian Football Federation; permits postponement of elections by a week

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FIFA issued a statement on August 16, 2022 announcing that "the Bureau of the FIFA Council has unanimously decided to suspend the All India Football Federation (AIFF) with immediate effect due to undue influence from third parties, which constitutes a serious violation of the FIFA Statutes". 

A Supreme Court bench of Justices Chandrachud and Bopanna today acceded to the request of the Central government to dissolve the Committee of Administrators (CoA) which it had constituted in May, 2022 to manage the affairs of All India Football Federation (AIFF). The court has postponed the elections of the AIFF, which were to take place on August 28, by one week as well. 

The bench further ordered that the day-to-day affairs of the AIFF shall for the time being be managed by the secretary general of AIFF till the elections are held. Court directed that the returning office (RO), who was appointed by CoA, shall be deemed to be appointed by the Court since no objection had been recorded against them by any of the parties arguing this matter.

Court further ordered that the Executive Committee of AIFF shall consist of 23 members (17 including treasurer will be elected by electoral college of 36; 6 members shall be drawn from eminent players).

With regard to former Indian football team captain Baichung Bhutia's application for intervention in support of the reforms sought to be introduced by the Supreme Court with regard to AIFF elections, Court asked Sr.Adv Gopal Shankarnarayan and SG Tushar Mehta to deliberate and ensure that he is given a post to improve the country's football.

SG Tushar Mehta, while addressing the court on Bhutia's application said, "He is to football what Tendulkar is to cricket, the government will request him to occupy a position soon." Bhutia's counsel however clarified, that the application was filed just to assist the court and not to seek any position. 

The above application was heard after FIFA announced its decision to suspend the AIFF with immediate effect and the Central government mentioned the matter before the Top Court for urgent hearing.

The original plea was filed by the All India Football Federation challenging the Delhi High Court order staying the fresh elections of the committee, in addition to this, the bench was also considering an intervention application alleging that a committee is continuing illegally for over a decade.

In May 2022, the apex court appointed a committee consisting of Justice Anil R Dave (Retired Supreme Court Judge), Dr. SY Qureshi (former Chief Election Commissioner of India), Mr. Bhaskar Ganguly (former Captain of the Indian Football team) to take up the administration of the All India Football Federation as an interim measure. 

In the beginning of this month, Supreme Court had directed the Committee of Administrators (CoA), appointed by it, to conduct All India Football Federation elections expeditiously as per the timeline suggested by CoA and in consonance with the Sports Code and the Football Federation's draft Constitution. AIFF has challenged the Delhi High Court order staying the fresh elections of the committee. 

Earlier, the Court orally assured that on the next date of hearing, it will ensure that a democratically elected body will be put in place in time for the Under-17 Women's world cup that is to take place in October 2022.

SG Tushar Mehta appeared for the central government while Sr.Adv Gopal Shankarnarayan appeared for the CoA. 

Case Title: All India Football Federation vs. Rahul Mehra & Ors