By Jagannath Chatterjee
New Delhi, Jan 13 (SocialNews.XYZ) The Supreme Court on Wednesday adjourned the hearing on an appeal filed by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) challenging a Delhi High Court order setting aside its President Praful Patel's election in December 2016 citing the violation of the National Sports Development Code of India (2011).
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, sought the adjournment from a bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde in the matter in order to file its reply. The top court will now hear the matter after two weeks.
Reacting to the development, former India goalkeeper Kalyan Chaubey, who had filed a case in the Supreme Court last month urging it not to extend the mandate of the current executive committee of the AIFF and hold fresh elections at an early date, told IANS that since the government has been doing so many good works, he hoped the Union Sports Ministry will look into the affairs of the Football Federation in a positive manner.
It may be recalled that the top court had stayed the Delhi High Court's November 2016 order, setting aside Praful Patel's election as AIFF chief for a third successive tenure, saying the election itself was in violation of the National Sports Code and had directed the federation to hold fresh elections within a period of five months. The HC order was challenged by the AIFF in the Supreme Court.
The top court had also appointed former Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi and former India football captain Bhaskar Ganguly as ombudsmen to formulate the AIFF constitution within eight weeks.
Asked what prompted him to move the apex court against the AIFF, Chaubey said that someone had to come forward for this cause and hence he had filed the petition of December 16, 2020.
"Someone had to come forward. I too filed the plea quite late, just four/five days ahead of the AIFF elections, which were due on December 21, 2020. I was hearing from different sources that the AIFF was planning not to hold the elections this time also. By filing a petition in the Supreme Court, urging it to postpone the date of elections, the federation wanted to stretch the tenure of the executive committee. Hence I thought that someone had to come forward and let me be that person," he said.
Chaubey added that apart from demanding an early election, he had also requested the court to allow former footballers to contest the federation's elections without any criteria.
"See, as I look at it, those who are experts in their field should be given the responsibility to look after that area. If a farmer's welfare board is constituted sans the representation of farmers, or say something is being done for the journalists without involving the scribes, I don't think such bodies can function properly. Here the federation has kept a criteria that you have to be in a state association for at least four years to be part of the decision making process, but I don't see any logic in it," Chaubey told IANS.
Replying to a query whether he will get the support of former footballers, Chaubey sounded positive, saying, "I think so. There are a number of former footballers who really want to work but they don't get the platform. In India, former players are kept in good humour by offering them assistant coach's job or something like that. They don't even make former India players the chief coach, which is shameful. Secondly, if we don't give our own people proper opportunities, we will be wasting our own talents.
"A former player, who has played for say around 15 years at the top level and before that say about five to seven years at the grassroots level, will have the experience of the grind needed to reach the top, including geographical, economical and weather barriers. As an administrator, such players can share vital details with the next generation of players.
"See, on one hand, former footballers are not given the chance to contest the federation's elections (because of the four-year criteria) and on the other, they are also not being given top coaching jobs. So where are you taking the game?"
Chaubey is also unhappy about the performance of the current executive committee of the AIFF. He feels that if a performance audit is carried out of the present committee, it will become clear how it has performed so far.
"The committee is there for the past 12 years. If we do a performance audit, we will come to know what resources they have got, what financial assistance they have received and what they have delivered in these twelve years.
"Even if they claim to have hosted the U-17 World Cup, the reality is that FIFA held the event in India because it wanted football to be popular in the Indian subcontinent. The government of India had also extended its support. We just played as a host," Chaubey told IANS.
"The British ruled us for several years, but then Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Bhagat Singh, Khudiram and many others took the fight to the Britishers. They could not see India achieve freedom, but at least they started the process. I don't know whether I will be able to see a clean AIFF, or how many former footballers join me, but what I know is that I started the fight," Chaubey signed off.