SC sends notice to Praful Patel for alleged contempt of court

SC sends notice to Praful Patel for alleged contempt of court

November 10, 2022

The AIFF had found itself in the limelight of controversy yet again when the SC on Wednesday sent contempt of court notices against the former president of the AIFF, Praful Patel and the current Secretary General, Shaji Prabhakaran. The sitting this time around was concerning a plea that raised issues relating to finalising the constitution of the AIFF, issuing directions pertaining to forensic audits, and hearing contempt notices against previous AIFF administrative members. 

Chief Justice DY Chandrachud heard the matter alongside Justice Hima Koli and JB Pardiwala. In a couple of instances, the CJI echoed the feelings of football fans in India. With the amount of procedural activity and problems associated with the AIFF, playing football and developing football in India has taken a backseat. 

Live Law mentioned in their story concerning the fiasco an important quote from the CJI. With all this procedural wrangling, when do our players actually play football? The federation is doing every thing but play football here,he remarked during the proceeding. Unfortunately, such has been the state of affairs in Indian football.  Issues pertaining to the federation run throughout the year, leading to a greater focus on fixing matters of the AIFF rather than developing and improving football in the country. Bar and Bench also pointed out the same quote in a tweet, stressing that the focus of the AIFF is elsewhere. 

 With the nuisance in the background, the bench assessed the three-fold issues. 

Contempt Notices

The allegation against the former President of the AIFF and other administrative members is that the lot of them attempted to circumvent the SC order concerning the appointment of a CoA by persuading FIFA to write threatening letters, which included the disqualification of the AIFF. 

This of course was the case when the CoA was appointed by the SC to look into the affairs of the AIFF. However, soon after, FIFA threatened to ban the AIFF as a result of third-party interference (the third party being the CoA).

In total, contempt allegations have been raised against four members of the last office of the AIFF. Senior Raju Ramachandran who appeared on behalf of the AIFF believed that the petition should be handled by the Amicus. 

Forensic audits

The previous management is also alleged to have embezzled funds during their time in office. To that end, a forensic report prepared by Deloitte will be examined. It was alleged by senior advocate and amicus curiae Gopal Shankaranarayanan that the report points out how kickbacks were received in awarding contracts from the years 2017 to 2022. 

Due to the contents of the report being personal in nature, the report was advised not to be made public by the senior advocate. However, the CJI mentioned that they would go through the report and later decide whether an FIR ought to be filed against those concerned. 

Finalising the constitution

The Solicitor General was of the opinion that a full-fledged probe could be made once the report had been studied. Furthermore, he stated that the amicus curiae tabulate the objections made to the constitution of the AIFF and that the same be finalised after hearing all the objectors. The hearing of the matter was posted after two weeks. 

The bench also directed parties wishing to suggest ideas to the constitution to be submitted to the amicus by Friday, the 11th of November. The bench requested the Deloitte report to be circulated amongst the three judges.  

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