New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Tuesday set aside the election of Praful Patel as president of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) and asked for fresh polls within five months.
A bench headed Justice Ravindra Bhat also appointed former Chief Election Commissioner S. Y. Quraishi the AIFF administrator.
The court, while scrapping the election of the AIFF's executive members, said that election was conducted without following the National Sports Code.
The order came two days after India successfully hosted the FIFA U-17 World Cup for the first time. Patel had said during the tournament that India was also looking to host the FIFA U-20 World Cup.
Patel became acting president of the AIFF in 2008 when its then chief, Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi suffered a cardiac arrest. He was installed as full time president in October 2009 and was re-elected for a second stint in December 2012.
He got a shot at his third stint as AIFF chief in December last year.
The AIFF defended Patel's election for a third term, asserting that it has followed all the provisions laid down in the National Sports Code, FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
"The High Court vide its order dated December 15, 2016 had observed that the election ought to be conducted as per the applicable rules of the institution concerned and also in consonance with the National Sports Code and the elections guidelines contained with respect to conduct and eligibility conditions including age, tenure and restrictions. The court further vide the same order restrained AIFF from completing its election scheduled December 21, 2016.
"Immediately, AIFF had filed a detailed affidavit to bring on record that AIFF has followed the election process as prescribed under Sports Code, its constitution as well FIFA and AFC statutes. AIFF also apprised the court that the constitution of AIFF is in compliance with the terms of age limit, tenure limit of prime office bearers and one state-one vote policy.
Accordingly, the court allowed AIFF to proceed with elections vide its order December 20, 2016," ," the federation said in a statement.
"AIFF conducted its election under the supervision of a retired High Court Judge, who acted as the Returning Officer. AIFF's election process is as per the FIFA and AFC statutes as well.
"AIFF is fully compliant with all statutory regulations in terms of the Registrar of Societies Act as well as other notifications and orders of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. The Sports Ministry also confirmed and verified in the past that that AIFF's election was in strict compliances with its constitution and National Sports Code," the statement added.
"AIFF is not aware of the reasons of the Hon'ble Delhi High Court to pass this order. Once AIFF receives the copy of the order from the High Court, AIFF will decide the course of action in accordance with the law."