Interim relief for Bhutia

Indian captain can play for any club until final verdict


Bhaichung Bhutia

The interim order passed by former additional Solicitor General Amarendra Sharan has cleared the decks for Bhutia to play for East Bengal in the I-League starting October 1.

Bhutia, who signed an MoU with East Bengal after being suspended by Mohun Bagan, will have to give an undertaking within two weeks to serve the remaining two and half months of suspension if the judgment goes against him.

“Bhutia is allowed to play for any club of his choice until a final award is passed subject to furnishing an undertaking within two weeks from today that in the event of final award being passed against Bhutia, he shall undergo the rest of period of suspension and refund the amount equivalent to the salary for the period of suspension,” Sharan wrote in his 14-page interim order on Bhutia’s application for interim relief.

Sharan, in a separate nine-page, order also rejected Mohun Bagan’s application that the proceedings before him were not arbitration but conciliation. Bhutia was obviously a relieved man after three and half months of frustration. “I lost quite a few months besides missing out on two tournaments (IFA Shield and Durand Cup). said Bhutia. “Mohun Bagan were trying to ruin my career and tarnish my image. I will continue the fight so that other players don’t have to face similar crisis.”

Sharan said in his interim award that under FIFA and AIFF regulations no sporting sanction could be imposed on a player in his third year in a club if he was above 28 years of age.

The contract for Bhutia to play for Mohun Bagan in 2007-08 and 2008-09 was signed on June 1, 2007. Another agreement for 2009-10 season was signed on April 2, 2008.

“Even if the contract of April 2, 2008 was valid no sporting sanction could have been imposed on Bhutia in his third year. Prima facie there is a strong case the suspension imposed on Bhutia is contrary to Article 31 of AIFF Constitution and Article 5 of FIFA Constitution.”

Despite the interim relief, the case will continue.

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