4 May 2023 7:59 AM GMT
The Supreme Court on Thursday closed the petition filed by three women wrestlers, who have represented the country in prestigious international events, taking note of the fact that FIRs have been registered by the Delhi Police against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh over alleged sexual harassment.A bench comprising Chief Justice of India DY...
The Supreme Court on Thursday closed the petition filed by three women wrestlers, who have represented the country in prestigious international events, taking note of the fact that FIRs have been registered by the Delhi Police against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh over alleged sexual harassment.
A bench comprising Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, Justice PS Narsimsha and Justice JB Pardiwala noted that the petition was filed seeking FIR and with the same being registered, the purpose has been served. The bench granted liberty to the petitioners to approach the jurisdictional magistrate or invoke the remedy under Section 482 CrPC before the Delhi High Court in case of any further grievances.
The petitioners' lawyer Senior Advocate Narender Hooda requested the bench to monitor the investigation, taking into account the conduct of the Delhi Police in refusing to take action till the Supreme Court's intervention. However, the bench turned down this plea and said that it has given liberty to petitioners to invoke other remedies.
"Keeping in view the conduct of the Delhi Police, I request the investigation to be monitored by either this court or a retired judge. Once it is disposed, the Delhi police will drag its feet", the petitioner's counsel urged.
"We have only said that we are closing the proceedings at this stage, confining ourselves to the prayers. We have not said that this is not worthy of being monitored. You can approach the Magistrate or the Delhi HC if there are any issues", CJI replied.
The bench also noted in the order that the Delhi Police recorded the statement of the minor complainant on April 29 and the statements of four others on May 3 and that police is taking steps to record their statements before the Magistrate under Section 164 CrPC. The order also recorded the statements made by the police regarding the security arrangements made for the complainants.
Court room exchange
As soon as the matter was taken, Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Delhi Police, informed the bench that security arrangements have been made for the minor complainant as per the directions of the Court. As regards six other adult complainants, the Delhi police assessment concluded that there is no threat perception, however, it was felt reasonable to provide security and the same has been provided. Three of the complainants are stationed in Jantar Mantar staging protests against Brij Bhushan and three armed police personnel are deployed there, the SG said. The SG further said that the investigation in the case is progressing.
Senior Advocate Harish Salve sought to make an intervention on behalf of Brij Bhushan, saying that personal allegations have been made against him without making him as a party in the case.
The bench asked the SG regarding the recording of the statements. "Whose statements to be recorded etc, your lordships can leave to the investigative agency. We're doing our best, neutrally. We're impartial", the SG said while adding that complainant's statement has been recorded and the recording of the others' statements will take place in the coming days. The SG also took objection to the petition being filed directly in the Supreme Court seeking investigation.
"It is being done well, it is done by a very senior lady officer and her team. Everytime coming to this court with petitions saying do this first and then this- may not be right", SG said.
"We are only concerned with the investigation being done properly", CJI DY Chandrachud stated.
Narender Hooda, Senior Advocate, appearing for the petitioners told the bench that the seven complainants approached the Delhi police with the complaint on April 21. But the FIR was not immediately registered and they had to knock the doors of the Supreme Court, and finally, the FIRs were lodged only on April 28.
The senior counsel further submitted that the minor complainant was contacted by the police telephonically on April 29 and there was no formal notice under Section 161 CrPC.
"On the three following days, there was radio silence on the part of the Police", Hooda submitted. He added that a sealed cover affidavit was filed in the Supreme Court yesterday, following which they issued notices to other complainants for recording their statements.
As far as the accused is concerned, the senior counsel said that he is giving television interviews everyday, even taking the names of the complainants.
"So far as accused is concerned, he has become a TV star. Everyday he is giving interviews in TV channels. He is taking names of the complainants, he is naming their Akhadas", the senior counsel said. "The accused has said that he has not approached by the police so far. This Court last time said that the identity of the complainants must not be disclosed, but the accused he is taking names", he added.
This led to quick interventions being made by Solicitor General and Salve. "The complainants are giving TV interviews", SG said and Salve added, "complainants are sitting on protest".
The petitioners' counsel also referred to media reports about the scuffle between the Delhi police and the wrestlers at the protest site yesterday night. Responding, the SG said that two political leaders of a particular party went there with beds, which the police sought to stop and this led to a scuffle. SG also refuted the reports that the policemen were drunk by saying that the medical tests showed otherwise.
The bench told the petitioners' counsel that the petition was essentially filed seeking FIR and other issues are beyond its ambit.
In the last hearing, the Delhi Police had told the Supreme Court that it will register FIR against BJP MP and WFI president Singh over the complaint of women wrestlers. Later, two FIRs were registered against him, one under the POCSO Act on allegations of a minor wrestler and the second, based on the complaints of other women wrestlers.
Last week, while recording the Solicitor General's statement regarding the decision of the Delhi police to lodge FIR, the bench led by CJI had also issued directions to ensure the security of the complainants.
Case Title: XYZ And Ors.v. State of NCT of Delhi And Ors. WP(Crl) No. 189/2023
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