New Delhi: Two days after some top Indian wrestlers resumed their protest against the wrestling federation chief’s alleged sexual misconduct, the Supreme Court today issued notice to Delhi Police on the complainants’ request seeking an urgent hearing on the petition seeking registration of a police case against the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief and BJP MP Brijbhushan Sharan Singh. The court also ordered the redaction of the names of the seven complainant wrestlers from judicial records to suppress identities in the sexual harassment case, and fixed April 28 as the date for a hearing.
Seven women wrestlers had moved the top court alleging non-registration of FIR on their sexual harassment charge.
“There are serious allegations made in the petition by wrestlers who have represented India in international games about sexual harassment meted out to them. The matter requires consideration by this court,” a bench headed by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud said. The complaints which were being given in sealed cover shall again be resealed and placed under the petition, the court said.
The wrestlers, protesting at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar, had yesterday said that they would remain at the protest site till police file an FIR in the case. They claimed the police had refused to file a case even when they submitted their complaint several days ago.
Yesterday, Delhi Police sought a report from the investigation committee set up by the Union Sports Ministry to investigate the allegations and has begun a probe into the fresh complaint by wrestlers.
The elite athletes had called off their protest in January after assurances from the sports ministry, but are back at it as they claim that no action has been taken yet against the WFI chief.
“We will not believe anyone blindly. Last time we were misled. We hope this time there is no politics in this case,” says Vinesh Phogat, the first Indian woman wrestler to win gold at both the Commonwealth and Asian Games.
The protesters also said that this time they would not turn down anyone, and whoever wanted to support their protest could come and join them. In January, the protesters had requested left leader Brinda Karat to leave the stage as it was an “athletes protest”.
“This time, all parties are welcome to join our protest whether it is BJP, Congress, AAP, or any other party. We are not affiliated with any party,” Olympic medallist Bajrang Punia said.
The Indian Olympic Association on Monday announced the constitution of an ad-hoc committee to conduct elections of the Executive Committee of the Wrestling Federation of India within 45 days of its formation and to manage the day-to-day affairs of the body.
In January, the sports ministry formed a five-member ‘oversight committee’, which was headed by Olympic medallist boxer MC Mary Kom, to investigate the complaints. The committee had been instructed to submit its findings within a month.
Top Indian wrestlers, including Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat, Ravi Dahiya, and Sakshee Malikkh, held a sit-in protest in Jantar Mantar in January this year, demanding that Brij Bhushan be removed from the head office and the Wrestling Federation of India be disbanded.
The Delhi Commission For Women (DCW) has also issued a notice to Delhi Police to register an FIR on the issue.