After stepping in to prompt the Delhi Police to register two FIRs on sexual harassment complaints against Wrestling Federation of India chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, the Supreme Court on May 4 signed out of the case even as the police promised a “completely independent and impartial” investigation by a team led by a senior woman IPS officer.
A three-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud, Justices P.S. Narasimha and J.B. Pardiwala said the wrestlers had moved the apex court specifically seeking registration of an FIR.
The police have since then registered two FIRs against Singh. One of the FIR separately deals with offences under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act allegedly committed against a minor.
The court said the purpose of the wrestlers’ petition has served its purpose.
“We are doing our best. It will be a completely independent and impartial investigation. There is no reason for the petitioners to come here (apex court at every stage). That will not serve the ends of justice,” Mr. Mehta assured the court.
“We are only concerned with the investigation being carried out,” Chief Justice Chandrachud observed.
The Bench however refused a plea by the wrestlers’ counsel, senior advocate Narender Hooda, to appoint a retired Supreme Court or High Court judge to monitor the investigation. He said the investigation against Singh, who is a BJP MP, would falter the moment the court withdrew.
The court observed in the order that the petitioners, in case of any grievance, could either move the jurisdictional Magistrate or approach the Delhi High Court for relief.
The Bench’s decision to close the proceedings before it in the case came at the end of a rather acrimonious hearing during which Mr. Hooda accused Singh of becoming a “TV star”.
“Despite the order from the court to keep the complainants’ names a secret, he is taking their names on TV,” Mr. Hooda submitted.
Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for Singh, in turn said “personal allegations” have been made against his client and he wanted to be impleaded in the case.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, for Delhi Police, said the complainants were themselves hardly keeping their identities confidential. “They are sitting in protest. Parents are giving interviews,” Mr. Mehta said.
He referred to newspaper reports of a “scuffle” between the protestors and the police personnel.
Mr. Mehta said leaders of a political party had come with “foldable beds” in two trucks, and the police had not allowed them entry for the sake of security. In turn, allegations were made that the police officers were drunk.
“We have conducted medical tests of all the officers. There is no recording of any intoxication,” he said.
The Solicitor General said all the seven complainants, including the minor, have been given round-the-clock security by armed police personnel.
He said the statement of the alleged minor victim was recorded in the presence of four women constables on April 29 at the office of her lawyer. Mr. Mehta said the statements of the adult complainants have been recorded too.
The process for recording the statements of the complainants before a Magistrate would be initiated shortly.