The Supreme Court directed the termination of the mandate of the three-member Committee of Administrators (CoA) headed by a former top court judge on Monday.
The committee was appointed by nearly two months back for managing the affairs of the national football body AIFF.
The apex court said that it is modifying its earlier orders to facilitate the revocation of the suspension which has been imposed on AIFF by FIFA and the holding of the Under-17 Women’s World Cup 2022 in India.
Former Indian skipper Baichung Bhutia and the Committee of Administrators (CoA) on Monday told the Supreme Court that the reform process in the national football body AIFF should be allowed to continue despite threats from FIFA.
The Centre told the top court that Bhutia is a legend in football like Sachin Tendulkar or Sunil Gavaskar is in Cricket and it is considering a bigger role for him due to his contribution to Indian Football and the government would request him that what he is aiming for in AIFF (post of President) may not be appropriate to his stature.
Bhutia, who has moved the top court saying that the draft constitution of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) prepared by CoA should be adopted said that though he has played over 100 matches for India over the period of 10 years in the present situation prevailing in the national football body, does not know whether he will be able to get into the administration of football in this country.
The top court also asked for an interim and final report of the forensic audit of AIFF, which allegedly indicated larger scale siphoning and defalcation of funds by the Praful Patel-led management committee to be submitted to the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports and orally directed it to proceed under law.
A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and AS Bopanna asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, to look into the proposal of considering Bhutia for some appropriate position as per his stature in football administration.
Advocate Raghenth Basant, appearing for Bhutia, said that his only concern is to remove the vested interest prevailing in the football administration in the country.
“I captained India in football and have played 107 matches over the period of ten years.
I may be a legendary player but I have absolutely no chance to get into its administration if the current reform process is not allowed to continue”, Basant said.
He said that the court has to direct the implementation of its draft constitution despite FIFA’s objections and reforms being in the larger interest of the game.
The bench asked him what would happen if the court asserted its authority and sacrificed the under-17 Women’s World Cup.
Basant said that four years ago India hosted the under-17 men’s world cup but what had happened, India was still ranked 104th in the World in the game.
“Even if you ask a small child, he will tell you that there is no chance of India qualifying for the FIFA World Cup.
I would rather sacrifice the Under-17 Women’s World Cup and go for reforms and aim for the main World Cup”, he said.
Senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan, appearing for CoA, clarified that the committee has no intention to “cling” to the management of AIFF and it was the court’s mandate that they were following.
He took objections to the tone and tenor of the FIFA letters and said that it is like undermining the authority of the court and by calling there is third-party interference.
(Inputs from PTI)