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National Sports Code 2011 Cannot Be Read In The Manner Of A Statute And Must Be Understood Holistically : Supreme Court Of India

Shvena Neendoor ,
  09 August 2022       Share Bookmark

Court :
Supreme Court of India
Brief :

Citation :
SLP (C) No. 30748 of 2017

Case title: 
All India Football Federation v. Rahul Mehra And Ors.

Date of Order: 
6th August 2022

Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice J.B. Pardiwala

Appellant- All India Football Federation
Respondent- Rahul Mehra And Ors.


The Supreme Court directed that 36 football players (24 male and 12 female) be represented in the electoral college for the next executive committee election of the All India Football Federation, stating that the "National Sports Code, 2011 cannot be construed in the manner of a statute." The bench made these observations in response to the claim that, according to the National Sports Code, only State Federations have the right to vote on AIFF management. The bench studied the requirements of the National Sports Code in their entirety in order to approve the proposal of the Committee of Administrators, which is in charge of forming the executive committee of the All India Football Federation.


  • Clause 9.3, Model Election Guidelines- The clause stipulates that the National sporting organisations must satisfy several requirements in order to be eligible for government aid and to maintain official recognition.
  • Clause 3.9, Model Election Guidelines- This clause states, the Federation's membership should be limited to the corresponding State/UT and other associated special units (such as Sports Control Boards, etc.), and where the Federation grants membership to individual clubs or individuals, such membership does not impart the right to vote in any of the Federation's meetings.
  • Clause 3.9, Model Election Guidelines- It states that at the national level, each athletic discipline will have only one recognised federation. Only the officially recognised National Sports Federation would be eligible for financial subsidies.


  • In November 2017, the apex Court established a Committee of Administrators, whose mandate would include, among other things, (i) developing the All India Football Federation's Constitution in accordance with the National Sports Code and the Model Guidelines; and (ii) conducting elections and ensuring the formation of the Executive Committee. 
  • The ruling of this Court enabled the CoA to submit inputs to support the approval of the AIFF Constitution pursuant to the Court's directives after considering suggestions/objections. 
  • The CoA was also told to prepare the electoral college in order to hold elections to the Executive Committee in line with the terms of the proposed Constitution, subject to additional orders from this Court.
  • During the preceding hearing on July 28, 2022, there was widespread agreement that the Court should give precise orders about the staging of elections with this goal in mind. 
  • The finalisation of the Constitution could take some time since all objections must be given an appropriate opportunity to be heard. However, there was a general consensus that the elections should not be postponed any further.
  • There was general agreement that the elections should be held in accordance with the Code. However, the clauses of the code preventing sports persons from being representatives of the electoral college were in dispute, leading to the present Special Leave Petition.


Whether sports persons should be represented in the electoral college for the executive committee election of the All India Football Federation?


  • It was submitted that according to the National Sports Code 2011, athletes must have the right to vote solely in the management of national sports federations.
  • It was contended that under the National Sports Code, only State federations are eligible to vote in Executive Committee elections.
  • It was stated that clauses 3.9, 3.10, and 3.20 of the Model Guidelines state that State Associations have the only authority to vote in Executive Committee elections. 
  • Furthermore, it was proposed that the Model Election Guidelines envisage that only State Associations would be eligible to vote in the upcoming elections.
  • As a result, it was argued that enabling prominent players to vote in elections would violate the National Sports Code.


  • Representing the Ministry, the Additional Solicitor General contended that the Sports Code is a facilitating instrument rather than a restrictive document and that The Union Ministry had clearly said that 36 prominent players who have represented India in at least one international match must be included.


  • It was of the bench’s opinion that the National Sports Code cannot be read as a statute. In order to carry out both its goal and purpose, its laws must be understood holistically. 
  • It was stated that in this context, and in keeping with the necessity for the healthy growth of football in India, the presence of prominent players who have represented the country would be extremely beneficial. The management of football issues will benefit from the players' experience, expertise, and concerns. They are important stakeholders. 
  • The Court cited the applicable Sports Code provisions, particularly Clauses 9.3(12), 3.9, 3.10, and 3.20 of the Model Election Guidelines.
  • Apart from the foregoing analyses, the bench also took note of the fact that the model statutes being announced by FIFA considered the proper representation of sports athletes.
  • The court also approved the proposed timelines by the COA.
  • It was directed that there would be an interim arrangement that would not prejudice the parties' rights or contentions and the interim body would remain for three months, subject to future directions of the Court, until the Constitution is finished. The interim Body cannot claim any equities based on this order, and the current arrangement is subject to additional orders;


The court held that the elected Body's decisions must be communicated to the CoA. The elections to the AIFF Executive Committee should be held as soon as possible and completed within the time frame specified. It was further directed that each of the state/UT associations would send one representative to the electoral college. The 36-member notable football player electoral college will be made up of 24 male and 12 female players. Each of them would be required to have represented India in at least one foreign game and to have resigned from international football at least two years previous to the date of the election announcement.

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