New Delhi:The arbitrator who was appointed to decide on the suspension row between Bhaichung Bhutia and Mohun Bagan will give his verdict next week after the oral hearings between the two parties ended here on Saturday.
The arguments of the counsels of both the parties on the two issues - Bhutia's plea for interim relief and the Kolkata club's contention that it was not an arbitration process - before former Additional Solicitor General Amarendra Sharan, were completed today after four hours of hearing here.
Sharan said both sides will submit written replies of each other's argument on both the issues on September 22 and he will take a couple of days to decide.
"The arguments are completed today and both sides will reply on the points raised by the opposite party in writing. Earlier, they were to give the replies on Monday but now they have asked for more time. They will make written replies on Tuesday," Sharan said after today's hearing.
"After that I will apply my mind and give my decision in two or three days. Both parties though can go to a higher court of law against my decision," he added.
Today, Bhutia was represented by his counsel Usha Nath Banerjee while Mohun Bagan's case was argued by their lawyer Rupinder Singh Suri, from Delhi-based legal firm Suri and Company.
Suri said he does not know the exact term of reference of Sharan's appointment by the All India Football Federation.
"I don't know the exact term of reference of Sharan's appointment. But if we have to go by the normal procedure of arbitration the AIFF can't reject what Sharan decides on. Only the two parties can go to a higher court of law to contest the decision," Suri said.
Sharan was appointed as arbitrator on September 3 and he issued notices to Mohun Bagan and Bhutia two days later. During the five rounds of hearings till today, Bhutia had moved an application pleading for granting an interim relief so that he can play for East Bengal while Mohun Bagan had contended that the proceedings before Sharan was a conciliatory process and not arbitration.
Bhutia was suspended for six months without pay by Mohun Bagan in June for missing a few team training sessions and an exhibition match.
He appealed to the Indian Football Association (West Bengal football body) but later the AIFF took up the matter. The national body's Players' Status Committee, however, failed to decide on the matter as one member refused to give his opinion.
The AIFF then asked its outgoing General Secretary Alberto Colaco to mediate between Mohun Bagan and Bhutia. After Colaco could not find a solution, the AIFF Executive Committee in its meeting on August 30 had decided to refer the matter to an arbitrator.