Safeguarding Players: AIFF’s New PoSH Policy

In a press release dated May 8, 2024, the All-India Football Federation (AIFF) announced that it had approved its Prevention of Sexual Harassment (PoSH) policy.

This policy has been formulated in accordance with the provisions of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013. In May of last year, the Supreme Court, in Aureliano Fernandes vs. State of Goa and Others [CA No.2482 of 2014], referred to a survey by a national daily newspaper on sports federations in the country to highlight the lapses in the Act’s enforcement.

The said survey showed that 16 out of 30 national sports federations did not have a duly constituted Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) as per Section 4 of the Act; it was pointed out that five sports federations did not have an ICC and the ICCs in 11 other federations lacked the stipulated number of members, the mandatory external member or the independent member. With this, the Court gave directions for the implementation of the Act. Shortly before this judgment was pronounced, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) also took suo motu cognisance of the news report and issued notices to the sports federations.

The Supreme Court issued additional directions to ensure effective implementation of the provisions of the 2013 Act and the rules made thereunder in its October 2023 decision in the case of Initiatives for Inclusion Foundation & Anr. vs. Union of India & Ors. [WP(C) No.1224 of 2017].

AIFF has stated that its PoSH policy seeks to ensure a “safe and inclusive environment within the football community” and will be implemented with immediate effect. This development comes amid allegations of sexual misconduct levelled against former U-17 coach Alex Ambrose and of physical assault against suspended AIFF executive committee member Deepak Sharma.