Delhi Police urge court to frame charges against ex-WFI chief Brij Bhushan in sexual harassment case

In January 2023, the wrestlers— Sakshi Malik, Bajrang Punia, and Vinesh Phogat protested against Bhushan and demanded his arrest.

BySouth First Desk

Published Jan 06, 2024 | 6:47 PMUpdatedJan 06, 2024 | 6:48 PM

Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh. (Twitter)

The Delhi Police on Saturday, 6 January, urged a court in Delhi to frame charges against BJP MP and former Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh in a case of alleged sexual harassment of women wrestlers.

The police opposed the contention of the accused that since some of the alleged incidents took place overseas, they do not fall in the jurisdiction of courts in Delhi, as it concluded arguments on framing charges against Singh.

The police submitted before Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Priyanka Rajpoot that the incidents of sexual harassment, allegedly committed by Singh, overseas and inside India, including Delhi, are part of the same offence.

“Delhi court has jurisdiction to try this case,” the police told the judge. The court will further hear the matter on 20 January.

Also read: Protesting wrestlers won’t face vendetta politics says Brij Bhushan

Accusations against Brij Bhushan

The police had filed a charge sheet in the case against six-time MP Singh on 15 June, 2023, under Sections 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 354-A (sexual harassment), 354-D (stalking), and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code.

The police had then recommended the cancellation of a complaint filed by a minor wrestler against him, citing “no corroborative evidence”.

The allegations included demanding sexual favours, inappropriate touching, groping, pulling up t-shirts, blackmailing, and employing intimidation tactics.

In January 2023, wrestlers Sakshi Malik, Bajrang Punia, and Vinesh Phogat protested against Bhushan and demanded his arrest.

Various opposition parties, and civil society groups had come out in support of the sportspersons.

Also read: Sports Ministry suspends newly-elected WFI till further notice

Recent developments

On 21 December 2023, Rio Olympic bronze medallist Sakshi Malik put her wrestling shoes on the table and announced her retirement from the sport as a mark of protest against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh loyalist Sanjay Singh winning the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) election for the top job.

Sanjay, a close associate of the outgoing WFI chief became the new President with his panel winning 13 of the 15 posts in the elections — a result that expectedly brought disappointment for the top three wresters — Malik, Vinesh Phogat, and Bajrang Punia — who had aggressively pushed for a change of guard at the federation.

Following Malik, on 22 December, Punia returned the Padma Shri award to Prime Minister Modi as a sign of protest. On 23 December, Deaflympics gold medallist Virender Singh Yadav returned his Padma Shri to the government, in solidarity with the country’s top wrestlers.

On 27 December, Phogat returned her Khel Ratna and Arjuna Award to the prime minister, saying that such honours have become meaningless in the current situation where the grapplers are struggling badly for justice.

Meanwhile, the Sports Ministry on 24 December, suspended the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) till further orders after the newly-elected body made a “hasty announcement” of organising the U-15 and U-20 nationals “without following due procedure and not giving sufficient notice to wrestlers” for preparations.

The ministry also said the new body was working under the “complete control of former (WFI) office-bearers”, which was not in conformity with the National Sports Code.

(With PTI inputs)