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With the successful run of the FIFA under-17 World Cup in his pocket, and the prospects of hosting the under-20 World Cup bright too, All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Praful Patel was sitting high on accolades. That was till, on Tuesday (October 31), the Delhi High Court bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Najmi Waziri threw him out of his cocoon, ordering an administrator to take over the national football body.

The Court has ordered for a fresh election within five months.

The court appointed former Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) SY Quraishi as the AIFF administrator, bringing back memories of the Supreme Court’s corruption monitoring of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

Sports activist Rahul Mehra had petitioned the court, saying that the AIFF elections had been conducted without adhering to the National Sports Code. The court agreed to Mehra’s contention.

The AIFF has been careful in its reply, saying in a statement: “The AIFF is not aware of the reasons of the… Delhi High Court to pass this order. Once the AIFF receives the copy of the order from the High Court, it will decide the course of action in accordance with the law.”

AIFF further added: “AIFF is aware that the… High Court of Delhi has pronounced its judgment in the matter which was earlier reserved on 12th May, 2017. AIFF understands that the Hon’ble court has to make certain corrections, after which the order would be made available to the parties. The Hon’ble High Court also directed to amend the AIFF Constitution to make it compliant with the National Sports Code.

“That the Hon’ble Court further, vide the same order, restrained the AIFF from completing its election scheduled for 21st December, 2016. Immediately, AIFF had approached the Hon’ble High Court and filed a detailed affidavit to bring on record that AIFF has followed the election process as prescribed under Sports Code, its Constitution as well FIFA & AFC statutes. AIFF also apprised the… High Court that the Constitution of AIFF is in compliance with the terms of age limit, tenure limit of prime office bearers and one state-one vote policy. Accordingly, the… Court allowed AIFF to proceed with elections vide its order 20th December 2016.”

The top football body further clarified in the statement: “AIFF is fully compliant with all statutory regulations in terms of the Registrar of Societies Act as well as other notifications and orders of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports also confirmed and verified in the past that that AIFF’s election was in strict compliances with its Constitution and National Sports Code. AIFF’s election process is as per the FIFA and AFC statutes as well.”

Patel, a senior member of Nationalist Congress Party has served as Union minister in the UPA-1 and UPA-2 government. His tenure at AIFF started when he was anointed as acting president of the AIFF for one year after its head Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi suffered a cardiac arrest in 2008. In October 2009, Patel took over as full time president. Patel again became President in December 2012. In December 2016, Patel again got re-elected.

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