NEW DELHI: The sports ministry has informed the Supreme Court that the All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Praful Patel has no mandate to run the sport body, as he has served his three terms as president and the national body should hold elections without further delay.
The ministry's reply came after it filed an affidavit before the apex court on April 8 in relation to the Special Leave Petition (SLP) in which lawyer Rahul Mehra is one of the respondents along with the Union of India.
The ministry, in its reply (IANS is in possession of the copy), confirmed that Patel and his committee have no mandate to hold on to their offices.
Speaking to IANS, Rahul Mehra questioned the predicament of the ministry, saying why it had not taken any action against AIFF's office bearers when they have no rights to hold the posts.
"Why hasn't the ministry taken any action till now? Why didn't they hold elections when their tenure was over? And, now, the ministry has come with this kind of reply when the case is under judicial consideration. It's nothing, now the ministry wants to get rid of the current AIFF president and the whole exercise is for that," Mehra told IANS.
"When I filed a case in the Delhi High Court in 2016 regarding this, why didn't the ministry support me?" he said, questioning the intention of the Ministry.
Patel had in December 2020 completed his three terms (12 years) as president of AIFF, the maximum permitted to a national sports federation (NSF) chief as per the national sports code 2011, of which the AIFF is a signatory.
"It is submitted that as the term of the existing committee (of the AIFF) is already over, and the existing president (Praful Patel) has completed more than 12 years as president, the petitioner (AIFF) should hold elections without further delay as per extant instructions contained under Sports Code and the instructions issued by the Answering Respondent (sports ministry) from time to time," the ministry told the Supreme Court.
The ministry further said that the AIFF is set to lose its recognition in the eyes of the government for not adhering to the sports code.
"As the last elections, held by the petitioner was on 21.12.2016, as such the petitioner is required to conduct fresh elections. While recently the Answering Respondent renewed the Petitioner's (AIFF) annual recognition for a year with effect from 23.10.2020, such recognition is subject to the outcome of the special leave petition pending before this honourable court," the ministry said.
"Furthermore, the Answering Respondent (ministry) in their renewal letter dated 23.10.2020 has categorically stated that the Petitioner (AIFF) needs to bring their constitution in line with provisions of the Sports Code within six months from the date of issue of the letter," the ministry added.
"That thus the tenure of an office bearer of the Petitioner, such as the president, who has already served 12 years as president of AIFF, will be in violation of the Sports Code, specifically clause 9.3 (iii) of the Sports Code..."