The Supreme Court on Thursday closed the petition filed by three women wrestlers following the update that the Delhi Police has registered FIRs against the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) President and BJP leader Brij Shushan Sharan Singh over sexual harassment claims.
The bench consisting of Chief Justice Of India DY Chandrachud, Justice PV Narsimha and Justice JB Pardiwala noted that the Delhi Police recorded the statement of the minor complainant on April 29 and four other statements on May 3 under Section 164 CrPC, fulfilling the petition’s purpose. Senior Advocate Narender Hooda, representing the petition, requested the bench to continue to monitor the investigation in light of the Delhi Police’s refusal to take action on the matter thus far.
“Keeping in view the conduct of the Delhi Police, I request the investigation to be monitored by either this court or a retired judge. Once it is disposed, the Delhi police will drag its feet,” he asked.
The bench turned down this plea, stating that the petitioners may take up any future concerns with the jurisdictional magistrate or invoke remedy under Section 482 CrPC before the Delhi High Court.
Incidentally, just the previous day, there were two separate incidents in which those who were protesting for action to be taken against Singh were attacked by the Delhi Police.
On Wednesday night, the Delhi Police attacked wrestlers who are part of the ongoing protests at Jantar Mantar demanding that action be taken against Singh. The incident occurred after the protestors brought in cots to sleep on due to heavy rainfall. Four people, including AAP MLA Somnath Bharti who provided assistance in bringing in the bed, were detained and a few protestors were injured.
Protesting wrestlers to address press conference at Jantar Mantar shortly, following scuffle with cops. pic.twitter.com/cvbYw6Ptfh
— Press Trust of India (@PTI_News) May 3, 2023
Tokyo Olympics medallist Bajrang Punia said that the wrestlers, who were merely sleeping on cots, were attacked by a few baton-wielding policemen. Wrestling star Vinesh Phogat further claimed that she and Sangeeta Phogat were shoved by a police officer and another a drunk police officer assaulted her brother. She highlighted that there was no female police officer present at the site.
The Delhi police denied the claims that protestors were beaten and that a policeman was drunk, instead blaming the protestors for escalating the situation. They further claimed that the beds were being brought in without permission, which is why the police were intervening.
Earlier in the day, Delhi Police detained several Delhi University students who were holding a solidarity march with the wrestlers. The march was to begin at Arts Faculty, DU, however, Section 144 of the CrPC was imposed prohibiting any gathering of four or more people. When the students changed the venue of the march and arrived in hundreds, the Delhi Police began to detain them en-masse.
Both the wrestlers and the students have expressed their resolve in continuing the protests against the injustices faced by the women wrestlers. Several wrestlers have even threatened to return their medals and awards, including the Padma Shri, stating that these awards are pointless in the face of the humiliation they are having to face.
As the Jantar Mantar protests enter its twelfth day of continuous protest, it is worthwhile noting that as many as sixteen out of thirty national sports federations do not have a Internal Complaint Committee (IC) as mandated by the Prevention of Sexual Harassment at the Workplace (POSH) Act, 2013. There is no guarantee that those that do meet the compliance requirement on paper have adequately functional committees.