The Supreme Court on Wednesday stated that it would look into whether an FIR should be filed against former All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Praful Patel and his office bearers for alleged misappropriation of AIFF funds.

A Times of India report also stated that the SC bench, presided over by CJI D Y Chandrachud, has served contempt of court notices to Patel and current AIFF Secretary General Shaji Prabhakaran, over claims that the previous AIFF management attempted to get around an SC order of appointing the committee of administrators by convincing FIFA to write a letter threatening to disqualify AIFF.

This was after Gopal Shanakaranarayanan, amicus curiae and senior advocate, informed the bench, also comprising Justices Hima Kohli and JS Pardiwala, that a forensic audit report produced by Deloitte shows “how kickbacks were received by members of the then AIFF management in awarding contracts during 2017-22,” as quoted by TOI.

The SC Panel responded that it would study the sealed cover audit report on the alleged embezzlement of AIFF funds before taking a call on whether or not to make it public. “I am reticent about sealed cover contents. We will go through the report and decide whether it required lodging of formal FIR for further investigation. If further investigation was required, then those portions would be redacted from the forensic report and given to the parties,” the CJI noted.

To this amicus curiae Shanakaranarayanan told the bench that the Deloitte report has several personal communications. “It will be better if the bench decides whether or not to make the entire report public,” he said. The bench also asked the registry to circulate the Deloitte report among the three judges and said it would decide on further action during the next hearing.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta calls for investigation into AIFF’s affairs

The Solicitor General said that the bench, if necessary, can order a thorough investigation into the affairs of AIFF after studying the report. He, however, objected when senior advocate Rahul Mehra suggested that the amicus Curiae file the complaint. That would require the amicus curiae to step into the witness box during the trial, which is undesirable, the SG said as reported by the national daily.

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The Supreme Court also heard the matter to finalise the AIFF draft constitution. It asked the amicus curiae to tabulate the objections received about the draft constitution after hearing all parties. The matter will be up for hearing again after two weeks.

Earlier the Supreme Court had appointed a three-member Committee of Administrators to oversee AIFF’s daily affairs after SC removed Patel and his Executive Committee from office. However, the CoA was later disbanded after FIFA threatened to de-recognise the AIFF for the lack of an elected body. The CoA had then claimed that the prior administration had induced FIFA to write the threatening letter in violation of the SC order.

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