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DC Edit | Sexual predators must face full might of the law


Published on: May 1, 2023 | Updated on: May 1, 2023

Supreme Court of India (PTI)

India’s highly decorated wrestlers had to approach the Supreme Court before an FIR was registered by the Delhi Police against a person accused of being a sexual predator. One more FIR in the dossier of the former WFI chief, politician, and Member of Parliament, accused of dacoity and attempted murder in the past and who has also spent time in jail, means very little. Any ordinary person accused under the Pocso Act on a complaint by a minor would have been in jail already. The double standard is crystal clear as law enforcement, under pressure from rulers, is seen dragging its feet.

The world applauded when a sexual predator in Hollywood film mogul Harvey Weinstein was hauled over the coals and imprisoned after a jury convicted him. The former US President Donald Trump is facing serious legal charges in a rape case. The conclusion is simple enough — no matter how powerful politically and rich, those accused of sexual harassment of either women or men must face the charges in a court. It is a blot on a nation if it does not deal sternly, albeit legally, with this matter of sexual exploitation by men or women in authority or position.

It is curious then that Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, a six-time MP, is still a free man even as a sports ministry’s oversight committee headed by the accomplished boxer Mary Kom handed in its report, but whose contents have not been disclosed, nor action taken against a sports official accused by multiple medal winner Vinesh Phogat and others of having sexually harassed 10 to 20 young women wrestlers. The Centre initially took to managing the issue, or sweeping it under the carpet, much as it did in the case of sexual harassment complaints at the Kalakshetra Foundation, a dance school for young learners run by the Culture Ministry.

Extreme insensitivity, further compounded by the crass opinion expressed by a leading woman athlete and now President of the Olympic association, P.T. Usha, who was rightly excoriated for her tone-deaf call for discipline and abandoning of the protest at Jantar Mantar, is at the heart of the issue. Misogyny and male chauvinism of our society are also to blame. But what has complicated this case is clearly its political overtones with a ruling party MP the accused and who is using the media freely to protest his innocence even as he sends out a loaded political message involving the leader of a UP political party.

No man is guilty until he is proved to be so. The point is, if accused, he must face the rigours of the law and submit himself to a process of investigation. But, given the impediments of a reluctant police force, only the Supreme Court can help by setting the matter on a logical legal route by ordering a judicial inquiry. This is the least that can be done to answer the calls for justice from athletes who expend their sweat and blood to try and win medals for themselves and the country. The wrestlers need to see a fair inquiry run against a principal offender they have named. It is the least the Establishment can do, but to do that it must rise far above political considerations.