‘FIR to be filed against WFI chief’: Solicitor General tells Supreme Court as wrestlers continue protest in Delhi

Two days after telling the Supreme Court that a preliminary enquiry may be needed before registering an FIR against WFI President and BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta informed the court of the Delhi Police’s altered stance.

WE have decided to register an FIR. It will be registered today”, the Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta said at the outset of the hearing, informing the Supreme Court of the Delhi Police’s decision to file a first information report (FIR) against the Wrestling Federation of India president and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member of Parliament Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.

Wrestlers protesting at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi had approached the Supreme Court seeking the registration of a formal complaint against Singh for alleged sexual harassment of seven female athletes, including one minor.

A division Bench of the Supreme Court comprising Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dr D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice P.S. Narasimha directed the Commissioner of Police, Delhi to undertake a threat perception assessment of the minor alleged victim to ensure her protection. The Bench had issued notice to the Delhi Police on Tuesday.

Immediately after the Bench directed the above, Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the complainants, contended that there are seven alleged victims who have made the same allegations against Singh and, hence, all should be given similar protection.

The Bench thereafter clarified that the direction on security to the alleged minor victim “shall not stand in the way” of the Delhi Commissioner of Police undertaking similar assessment for other alleged victims.

Sibal also placed an affidavit before the court in a sealed cover on the self-assessed threat perception of the minor complainant.

There are serious allegations of sexual harassment in the petition, which is instituted by professional international wrestlers who have represented India. The matter requires the consideration of this court in exercise of its jurisdiction under Article 32 of the Constitution,” the Bench had observed on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, the Delhi Police, through Mehta, had informed the court that a preliminary enquiry might be needed before registering an FIR into the allegations of sexual harassment. Mehta did not elaborate today on the change of stance of the Delhi Police.

Instead, he told the court, “The moment we found that there’s a cognisable offence (committed by Singh), we took a decision that an FIR will have to be registered.”

Women wrestlers and allied individuals began a dharna at Jantar Mantar in January this year demanding action against Singh. On January 20, taking cognisance of the allegations of sexual harassment, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), led by retired Indian track and field athlete and nominated member of Rajya Sabha P.T. Usha, formed a seven-member committee, headed by boxer and former member of Rajya Sabha M.C. Mary Kom, to probe the charges.

The report drafted by the Mary Kom oversight committee is yet to be made public, a fact mentioned by Sibal during today’s hearing.

Usha had on Thursday questioned the ‘discipline’ of those protesting in Delhi. “The IOA has an athlete’s commission in place and instead of hitting the streets, these wrestlers should’ve come to us. The athletes should be disciplined. If their problems are real, they should’ve come to us earlier. If they were not satisfied, then they could’ve gone anywhere,” Usha said on Thursday.

Responding to the same, Olympic bronze medallist freestyle wrestler Bajrang Punia retorted, “[She’s] calling us indisciplined (sic). This is not a wrestling bout. This is a fight for all the athletes in the country who can fight united because India’s daughters are being exploited.”

The wrestlers had decided to call off the protest in January after two rounds of talks with the Union Youth Affairs and Sports Minister Anurag S. Thakur. An oversight committee was thereafter formed, as noted above.

However, seeing no action being taken against Singh, wrestlers decided to resume their protests earlier this month.

Wrestlers will continue to stay at Jantar Mantar. Fight does not end at the FIR”, said Olympic bronze medallist freestyle wrestler Sakshi Malik earlier today after the Supreme Court hearing.

The Leaflet