When Indian sport is trying to get rid of tainted officials, the Uttar Pradesh Football Sangh (UPFS) secretary, accused of sexual harassment, took shelter under the law to attend the executive committee meeting of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) here Wednesday.
UPFS secretary Mohammed Shamsuddin, who is out on bail after being arrested last month in Varanasi on charges of sexual harassment, attended the meeting. He is also the vice-chairman of AIFF finance committee.
A top AIFF official told IANS that Shamsuddin was a mute spectator at the meeting as he had little to contribute to the deliberations.
"Hardly anyone took notice of his presence, not even president Praful Patel," the official, not wanting to be identified, told IANS.
Shamsuddin apparently came to the capital for lobbying with the AIFF to nominate him as the head of contingent of the under-23 team for the Asian Games, but there were no takers.
Explaining the circumstance in which he attended the meeting, AIFF secretary Kushal Das told IANS that Shamsuddin was "well within his rights to attend the meeting as he has not been charge-sheeted or convicted."
"Shamsuddin was well within his rights attend the executive committee meeting. The law of the land allows him to take part in the meeting as nothing has been proved against him. The charges could be motivated as well," said Das.
Indian Olympic Secretary (IOA) secretary-general Rajeev Mehta, however, was disappointed with Shamsuddin's presence at the meeting when the buzz is for cleaner sport.
"We are trying to keep tainted official out from Indian sport. Even the Uttar Pradesh Olympic Sangh had written to the AIFF seeking strict action against the tainted official," Mehta told IANS
Shamsuddin was arrested last month after a Meerut-based woman footballer filed a police complaint against him, alleging sexual harassment during the state team's camp for the national championships. A case was lodged under Sections 342 and 354 of the IPC.
A UP sports directorate official, Shamim Ahmad, was also suspended for allegedly taking the girl to Shamsuddin's residence on the pretext of ensuring her selection in the state team.