NHRC issues notice to Sports Ministry over absence of committee for sexual harassment complaints

This comes close on the heels of the ongoing wrestlers’ protest against alleged sexual harassment by federation chief Brij Bhushan Singh

May 11, 2023 06:01 pm | Updated 07:46 pm IST - New Delhi

National Human Rights Commission office in New Delhi. File

National Human Rights Commission office in New Delhi. File | Photo Credit: V. Sudershan

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Thursday took a suo motu cognisance of media reports about absence of a Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) in the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) which is mandated by the Prevention of Sexual Harassment (PoSH) Act, 2013. The move comes amid the ongoing protest by wrestlers against alleged sexual harassment by federation chief Brij Bhushan Singh.

The communique issued by the NHRC added that the media report, carried on May 04, reported that the wrestling body is not the only one which does not have a duly constituted ICC. In addition to it, there are as many as 15 of the 30 National Sports Federations who do not meet this mandatory requirement.

“The Commission has observed that the contents of the media report, if true, amount to a violation of a law, and thus is a matter of concern as it may impact the legal right and dignity of the sports persons,” the NHRC communique said.

15 federations get notice

It has issued notices to the Secretary, Department of Sports, Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. The notice has also been sent to the Sports Authority of India (SAI), the Board Of Control For Cricket In India (BCCI), Wrestling Federation of India (WFI). As many as 15 other National Sports Federations for Handball, Volleyball, Basketball, Weightlifting, Yachting, Gymnastics, Table Tennis, Billiards and Snooker, Kayaking and Canoeing, Judo, Squash, Triathlon, Kabaddi, Badminton, Archery, mentioned in the news report, which either do not have even an ICC or properly functional ICCs as required in the law, were also served the notice.

They have been asked to submit detailed reports within 4 weeks, including the present status of the ICC in their organisation as well as the steps taken or proposed to be taken to address the issue, the NHRC added.

India’s top wrestlers, Sakshi Malik, Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia, among others are protesting at Jantar Mantar demanding action against the WFI chief, who is accused of allegedly sexually harassing multiple women, including a minor. After the wrestlers approached the Supreme Court, the Delhi police has filed two FIRs in the matter which are now being probed. The case is now ongoing in a Delhi court, which had on Wednesday asked the police for the status report on the matter.

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