Polls to elect office-bearers for the apex body of Indian football have been overdue.

Adding to a recent hearing in the Supreme Court wherein a bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana was told that an “illegal committee” is continuing to facilitate the All India Football Federation (AIFF), former India captain Bhaskar Ganguly has written to the top court to approve the ‘New Constitution’ drafted by him and former Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi and allow the AIFF to hold their long-pending elections.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan had made claims that an illegal committee is continuing to facilitate the AIFF due to the postponement of a petition of the football body against the 2017 decision of the Delhi High Court, setting aside its last election.

Bhaskar Ganguly writes letter to Chief Justice of India

In the letter, former India goalkeeper Bhaskar Ganguly wrote, “Your office had nominated me as Administrator (Ombudsmen) along with S.Y. Quraishi. As per your order dated November 19, 2017, the new constitution draft was to be submitted in a closed envelope to the court for further proceedings.

“The same was submitted by us in January 2020, but till date, there has not been much movement in this case. As a result, the AIFF is unable to take any decision to hold elections,” as reported by News9 Sports. With regard to his points, it’s important to mention that the draft for the new AIFF constitution that he submitted in January 2020 has not yet been reviewed publicly. 

Ganguly further added, “As a sportsperson, my prayer to the top court is to prioritize this case, approve the new constitution and advise the AIFF to immediately conduct the elections as per the ‘new constitution,’ so that the development of football in India can continue.”

“We are unable to hire any advocate because individually, we are working on this project without any financial support from anywhere. Hence, my submission to you is to expedite the case,” he stated.

Sports Ministry says Praful Patel has no mandate to continue

The sports ministry recently in an affidavit to the Supreme Court on April 8 also spoke among similar lines calling out AIFF President Praful Patel and pointing out that his committee had no mandate to remain in charge. The same had been made following the AIFF’s citation of a pending petition in the Supreme Court regarding its constitution.

Patel has already served his maximum allowed tenure of 12 years in the presidential position and the affidavit pointed out a violation of the National Sports Code as a result. 

With corruption allegations rife against the AIFF, it is all the more important that the apex court of India heeds the pleas of the Ombudsman. “My responsibility was to inform the Supreme Court. I have done so. Now it is for the honourable Court to decide. I hope the Court will act swiftly,” Ganguly said.

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