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Preliminary probe needed before FIR on sexual harassment allegations of wrestlers: Delhi Police to SC

The bench took note of the submissions of Mehta, and said Delhi Police may put forth their views on registration of the FIR on April 24 when the plea of wrestlers will be heard.

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The Delhi Police on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that some kind of preliminary probe was needed before it can proceed with the registration of an FIR over sexual harassment allegations levelled by seven women wrestlers against WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.

A bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice P S Narasimha was told by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Delhi Police, that if the top court felt that an FIR was to be lodged straightaway then it may be done. ”However, the police felt there are some issues which needed preliminary inquiry before the registration of the FIR,” the top law officer said.

“You know Solicitor we also don’t do something without hearing the other side and unless we have some material. Please furnish the material which you have on Friday…We took it up as this involves a minor etc,” the CJI said.

The law officer said let an impression be not created that the FIR has not been registered despite the court asking for it.

The bench took note of the submissions of Mehta, and said Delhi Police may put forth their views on registration of the FIR on April 24 when the plea of wrestlers will be heard.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the wrestlers, said he would be filing some additional material on the matter. The top court on Tuesday issued notices to the Delhi Police and others on a plea by the seven women wrestlers, saying the matter is ”serious” and requires its consideration.

Several national award winning wrestlers have been protesting at Jantar Mantar here demanding the government make public the findings of an oversight panel that investigated the sexual harassment allegations against Singh, also a BJP MP.

The wrestlers on Tuesday asserted that they won’t leave the protest site until Singh is arrested. They had resumed their sit-in protest on Sunday and demanded that the findings of the oversight panel that investigated the allegations be made public. The committee was set up by the Sports ministry in January after the wrestlers held a three-day sit-in. The top court on Tuesday was initially of the view that the plea may be listed for hearing on Friday. However, after hearing some arguments from Sibal, who mentioned the matter, it decided to take up the case straightaway.

Taking note of the submissions, the bench had said, ”There are serious allegations made in the petition by wrestlers who have represented India and sexual harassment meted out to them. The matter requires consideration by this court.” The women wrestlers in their plea contended that despite filing complaints, the Delhi Police has failed to register the FIR.

”In spite of the lapse of three days i.e, from April 21, 2023 to April 24, 2023, no conclusive action has been taken by the Delhi Police. This clearly depicts a sad state of affairs and a clear violation of human rights.

The wrestlers submitted that after being ”sexually, emotionally, mentally, and physically” exploited by Singh and his close aides on numerous occasions, they mustered up the courage to raise their voices against such acts and sat in protest at Jantar Mantar seeking appropriate action against the perpetrators.

”Pursuant to the same, the Ministry of Sports in wake of such allegations against the accused person, vide public notice dated January 23, 2023 decided to constitute a five-member oversight committee to investigate the allegations on the receipt of the complaints received on the behest of the petitioners.

”The oversight committee took note of the allegations, and the statements of the victims were recorded. However, it is distressing to know that despite the committee being formed, no concrete steps have been taken to address this critical issue,” the plea said.

The petitioners claimed that they have learnt through media reports that Singh has been given a clean chit by the committee probing the allegations and the report of the committee is lying at the Ministry of Sports and despite requests it is not being made public.

”The women athletes who make our nation proud are facing sexual harassment, and instead of getting the support they deserve, they are being forced to run from pillar to post to get justice. On April 21, 2023, the petitioners proceeded to lodge an FIR against the accused person/persons and visited the Connaught Place police station along with their formal written complaints.

”Police at the said police station took the complaints and did not even issue a formal receipt of the complaint for about three hours. Police officials were seen taking pictures of the complaints on their mobiles and sending the same here and there. The attitude of the police was shockingly rude towards the complainants,” the plea submitted.

Top wrestlers such as Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik staged a sit-in protest at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar in January and accused the WFI boss of sexual exploitation and intimidation. The wrestlers had demanded that WFI be disbanded and its president be removed.

The sports ministry had then formed an oversight committee headed by boxing great MC Mary Kom on January 23 and asked it to submit its findings in one month.

Later, it extended the deadline by two weeks and also added Babita Phogat to the probe panel as its sixth member on the insistence of the protesting wrestlers.

The sports ministry on Monday had stalled the Federation’s election on May 7 and asked the IOA to form an ad-hoc committee to conduct polls.

The ad-hoc panel, which will conduct elections within 45 days of its formation, will also manage day-to-day affairs of the WFI till the sports body gets a fresh executive committee.


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