Sexual Harassment Case: Wfi Chief Brij Bhushan Yet To Be Questioned

    The Hawk
    May6/ 2023

    Brij Bhushan

    New Delhi: The Delhi Police are yet to interrogate Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, the chief of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), in connection with the two FIRs registered against him on April 21, pertaining to serious allegations, including violations under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

    As per sources, the police are yet to summon Singh, despite the FIRs filed 14 days ago. "We have recorded the statements of seven wrestlers and Singh will be served summons soon," said a source. According to police, one of the cases against him was registered under IPC sections 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 354A (sexual harassment), and 354D (stalking), while the other was registered under section 10 of the POCSO Act.

    What law says?

    While demands for the arrest of Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, the chief of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), persist due to three non-bailable and "serious" offences, legal provisions and Supreme Court rulings provide clarity on the matter. As per section 41A of IPC and various judgments of the apex court, the arrest of an accused is not obligatory if the maximum punishment prescribed for the offence is less than seven years of imprisonment. Supreme Court lawyer Vineet Jindal said that the decision to make an arrest lies solely with the police authorities. However, in cases involving serious offences, it is generally considered the norm to make an arrest. "Notably, offences under the POCSO Act are classified as non-bailable. Therefore, if there is a legitimate investigative requirement, the likelihood of an arrest occurring as a consequential action is high," said Jindal.

    Another Supreme Court lawyer, Rudra Vikram Singh said that since there is delay in arresting Singh, it might be due to primary investigation in the matter.

    "Also since the offences under POCSO Act and other acts allegedly committed entail a sentence up to seven years hence in these circumstances, the investigating officer might follow the compliance of provisions of Section 41 and Section 41-A of the CrPC as provided by Supreme Court in Amresh Kumar vs State of Bihar. If Singh does not cooperate with the 'Investigating Officer' (IO) in the probe, police can arrest him," Singh added.

    What wrestlers demand?

    Earlier, after the Supreme Court closed the proceedings on a plea by three women wrestlers, who have levelled sexual harassment allegations against Brij Bhushan, Olympic medallist Sakshi Malik said, "it's okay", and that they will decide the future course of action after consulting with seniors.

    "It is okay, we respect the Supreme Court. Their job is only to register the FIR. No court can ask anyone to arrest. We are sitting firm on our protest and it will go on till we get justice," the 30-year-old wrestler told IANS.

    "First the statements of our girls should be recorded before the magistrate under 164 CrPC. That is not done yet. We are waiting for it, after that we will see what needs to be done in this regard."