Wrestlers protest | Delhi Police charge Brij Bhushan for outraging modesty, seek cancellation of POCSO case

“I filed false case due to anger,” says father of minor wrestler who refuted earlier charges of sexual harassment; police file cancellation report, but court can still order further investigation after hearing complainant

June 15, 2023 12:32 pm | Updated 10:56 pm IST

BJP MP and Wrestling Federation of India chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh at the Constitution Club of India in New Delhi on June 15, 2023.

BJP MP and Wrestling Federation of India chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh at the Constitution Club of India in New Delhi on June 15, 2023. | Photo Credit: PTI

The Delhi police on Thursday filed a chargesheet against former Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief and BJP MP from Kaiserganj, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, for relatively minor offences such as outraging the modesty of a woman and stalking. At the same time, police have approached another court for the cancellation of a more serious case, involving allegations of sexually harassing a minor wrestler, as she has now given a fresh statement refuting those allegations.

Special Public Prosecutor Atul Srivastava confirmed that the police have filed a cancellation report of over 500 pages in the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act case filed on the basis of a minor wrestler’s complaint against Mr Singh, in the Patiala House court. That case will be heard on July 4.

Also Read | Filed false complaint against WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh due to anger over match: minor wrestler’s father

The FIR against Mr. Singh under the POCSO act, in which the minor wrestler had alleged that she was ‘sexually harassed’ by the accused, was lodged on April 28. However, earlier this month, the complainant recorded fresh statements in the matter and refuted the charges of sexual harassment. Sources said that the police cancellation report is based on her “change of statement”.

‘False case’

Speaking with The Hindu, the minor wrestler’s father claimed that he had deliberately filed “a false case against him [Mr. Singh] due to anger”. The father alleged that he had been threatened by people whose names he could not reveal, adding that his family was “living in intense fear”.

Explaining the options before the court hearing the POCSO case, senior advocate N. Hariharan said that the cancellation report means that no case is made during the investigation. “Under such circumstances, the court may take cognisance of the matter even when the minor complainant says nothing has happened with her. In another situation, the court may express dissatisfaction with the probe and ask the police to further investigate the matter. There is also a chance that the court can just accept the report,” he explained, adding that in all three situations, a notice has to be issued to the complaint.

“All of the options can be exercised, post hearing the complainant,” emphasised Mr. Hariharan.

Also Read | Wrestlers suspend protest on Minister’s assurance

‘Outraging modesty, stalking’

Regarding the fresh chargesheet filed against Mr. Singh on Thursday, the prosecutor Mr. Srivastava said that the charges include offences under Sections 354 (outraging modesty), 354A (sexually coloured remarks) and 354D (stalking) of the Indian Penal Code. The police have also booked Vinod Tomar, former assistant secretary at the WFI, under similar sections, along with Section 506 (1) (criminal intimidation).

The chargesheet — which has over a thousand pages and includes the testimonies of around 150 witnesses — was filed in the court of Deepak Kumar, Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate of the Rouse Avenue Court. The next date of hearing is June 22.

Result of protest

Some of the country’s top wrestlers — including Olympic and World Championship medallists Sakshi Malik, Vinesh Phogat and Bajrang Punia — have been engaged in a months-long protest in the capital, demanding Mr. Singh’s arrest for allegedly sexually harassing several women grapplers, including a minor. The police only filed an FIR against the accused BJP MP after the intervention of the Supreme Court last month. Two weeks ago, the frustrated wrestlers threatened to immerse their medals in the Ganga, just days after they were evicted from their protest site at Jantar Mantar.

On June 7, Sports Minister Anurag Thakur met the protesting wrestlers and assured them full support and protection. The protest was suspended on the basis of the Minister’s promise that police would file a chargesheet in the matter by June 15.

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