The Supreme Court on Wednesday said the “popular" sport of football needs to be taken forward and asked people to give suggestions to the amicus curiae on the draft constitution for the sports national federation, observing that “we are doing anything except football".
A bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and justices Hima Kohli and J B Pardiwala was apprised that the objections to the draft constitution of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) had been received.
“Amicus curiae (senior advocate Gopal Sankarnarayanan who is assisting the bench) is requested to tabulate the objections so that the constitution can be finalised," it said in an order.
The report of the forensic audit of the AIFF has also been received and the same be circulated to the judges, the bench said.
It also took note of submissions of senior advocate Raju Ramchandran, appearing for the football federation, that since a contempt petition had been filed against eight people, including four existing administrative members of the sports body, it would be appropriate to entrust the plea to the amicus curiae for pursuing it.
The bench then issued a notice on the contempt plea and fixed it for hearing after two weeks.
It said that “any party desirous of giving suggestions to the draft constitution may do so and give them to the amicus curiae".
At the outset, the bench lamented the status of football in the country, saying that “we are doing anything except football".
“Unlike hockey and cricket which really, in a sense, are the national sports, football is a popular sport which we all have played. But you know it has not reached that level or the parameter," Chief Justice Chandrachud said.
“So, we all have to take it forward. Now, please start the process of finalising the constitution of the AIFF… so that responsible people come in this sport," he said.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, said due to the intervention of the top court, the Under-17 Women’s World Cup 2022 could be hosted by India.
He also said now the constitution of the AIFF has to be finalised and “second, my lords need to direct forensic audits".
The forensic audit report is with the amicus curiae and it will be given to affected persons and third, there is the contempt petition filed which needs to be heard, Mehta said.
The amicus curiae said the firm which did the forensic audit of the AIFF has put some caveats that some of the contents are of personal nature and the court can take a call on their sharing after perusing them.
“I am reticent about not sharing something," Chief Justice Chandrachud said, adding that this aspect will be deliberated upon later.
Earlier, the Supreme Court had directed the termination of the mandate of a three-member committee of administrators appointed by it in May to manage the affairs of the national football federation.
The top court had said it is modifying its earlier orders to facilitate the revocation of the suspension which has been imposed on the AIFF by international football federation FIFA and the holding of the Under-17 Women’s World Cup 2022 in India.
On May 18, it appointed the panel headed by Justice (retired) Anil R Dave, former chief election commissioner SY Qureshi and former Indian football team captain Bhaskar Ganguly, and ousted the NCP leader Praful Patel-led management committee that had exceeded its tenure by over two and half years.
The order had come on a fresh plea filed by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports seeking modification of the May 18 and August 3 orders of the court after consultation with FIFA to ensure revocation of the suspension of AIFF and the hosting right for holding of the women’s world cup in India.
Solicitor General Mehta, appearing for the Centre, had said there are two “disastrous consequences" the country is facing, if the orders are not modified — one that India will lose hosting rights of any future football world cups, and the other, Indian teams will not be able to play even friendly international matches across the world.
He had said that it is not that India is being discriminated against but FIFA follows a uniform policy against third-party interference.
On August 17, the top court had asked the Centre to take a “proactive" role in getting the world football governing body’s suspension of the AIFF lifted and facilitating the holding of the Under-17 Women’s World Cup in India.
On August 16, FIFA had suspended India for “undue influence from third parties" and said the tournament “cannot currently be held in India as planned." The country hosted its first FIFA event from October 11-30.
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