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Will register FIR against WFI chief on Friday, Delhi Police tells SC


Published on: April 28, 2023 | Updated on: April 28, 2023

Wrestlers Vinesh Phogat (centre), Sangita Phogat (right) and Sakshi Malik during their protest at Jantar Mantar, in New Delhi, Wednesday, April 26, 2023. (Photo: PTI)

NEW DELHI: The Delhi Police will register an FIR on Friday itself over sexual harassment allegations levelled by seven women wrestlers against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, the Supreme Court was informed even as top grapplers continued their protest in the national capital.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Delhi Police, told a bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice P S Narasimha that the FIR will be registered today.

"We have decided to register an FIR. It will be registered today. I don't think anything survives," Mehta told the bench, which was hearing a plea filed by seven women wrestlers alleging non-registration of an FIR on their sexual harassment allegations against Singh.

The country's top wrestlers have been on a sit-in at Jantar Mantar in Delhi since Sunday demanding action against Singh.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the wrestlers, placed or record an affidavit in a sealed cover which voiced apprehension about the safety of a minor girl, an alleged victim of sexual assault.

"Bearing in mind the content which has been placed on record, we direct the Commissioner of Police, Delhi, to make an assessment of the threat perception and provide adequate security to the minor girl involved," the bench said in its order.

It said an affidavit be filed before it on or before May 5, the next date of hearing, about the steps taken for the security of the minor girl.

Sibal said there are seven complainants, including the minor girl, and they all should be given protection.

The bench said its direction for providing security to the alleged minor victim shall not stand in the way of the Commissioner of Police making an independent assessment of the threat perception of the other complainants.

The apex court permitted the solicitor general to share the sealed cover documents supplied by the women wrestlers with the police commissioner and said the city police chief shall maintain utmost confidentiality with regard to the documents.

Sibal, while referring to the affidavit, expressed his worries about the safety and security of the protesting grapplers.

Without naming anyone, he said 14 cases are pending against "this gentleman", including one under section 307 (attempt to murder) of the Indian Penal Code.

Mehta said the issue should be left to the city police chief and other responsible officers.

"Mr solicitor, we will record your statement that you are registering an FIR. Second, we will say let Commissioner of Police make an assessment of threat perception on what we have on record," the CJI said, while making it clear that the apex court is not monitoring the investigation.

When Sibal raised the issue of security to other complainants, Mehta said he has no difficulty over providing them security.

Mehta said, "There is something else... I will not go into it, it is a sensitive issue. Your lordships know the law. If FIR is not registered, the remedy is 156 (3) (of CrPC). I am not raising that ground... The moment we found there is a cognisable offence, we took a decision that FIR will have to be registered."

Section 156(3) of the CrPC says any magistrate empowered under section 190 may order investigation by the police in a cognisable case.

"We are in a position that they are in Delhi so they can directly approach your lordships under (Article) 32. There may be similar cases in the country where they would not be able to approach your lordships under 32 and your lordships' judgement takes care and there is already a remedy available if FIR is not registered," the top law officer said.

Sibal dwelt on the delay in taking action on the complaint of the protesting sportspersons.

"January 2023 this is formally told that you do something. They did nothing. Nobody does anything. They set up a committee.... these are all part of the records," he said, requesting for the probe to be monitored by a retired judge.

Sibal said the moment the federation came to know that something like this has happened, under the law, they were supposed to file an FIR.

"What is the responsibility of an organisation of which I am a member?" Sibal said, adding, "They don't do anything."

"Let the investigation start," the bench observed.

On April 26, the Delhi Police had told the top court that some kind of preliminary probe was needed before it can proceed with the registration of an FIR over the sexual harassment allegations.

The top court had 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 consideration.

Several national award winning wrestlers have been protesting at Jantar Mantar 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 had asserted 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.

Top wrestlers such as Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik staged a sit-in protest at 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 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 at the insistence of the protesting wrestlers.