India’s Supreme Court Tuesday described allegations of sexual harassment leveled by women wrestlers against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Brijbhushan Sharan Singh as “serious” and issued notices to police to explain why they had not registered a first information report (FIR) in the case.
“There are serious allegations made in the petition by wrestlers who have represented India in international games about sexual harassment meted out to them. The matter requires consideration by this court,” the top court said.
Seven female wrestlers had approached the apex court alleging police had not registered a FIR on their sexual harassment charge against the WFI president.
India’s top wrestlers, including Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia, have resumed their protest demanding the arrest of Singh, who is also a lawmaker from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The wrestlers have sat afresh on a protest since Sunday evening at Jantar Mantar in India’s capital New Delhi, and threatened they would not move until a case is registered against Singh.
The Supreme Court has listed the matter for further hearing on Friday.
The wrestlers first sat on protest against Singh in January this year, calling them off after the government promised to investigate their complaints.
India’s federal sports minister Anurag Thakur had announced that Singh, facing allegations of sexual harassment and misappropriation of funds, would step aside from the governing body of the sport until the completion of the probe.
The Indian Olympic Association also announced a seven-member panel would investigate the allegations against Singh.
Singh has denied the allegations and said he was ready for an investigation.
Local media reports said the government panel submitted its report in the first week of April, but the ministry is yet to make its findings public.
Meanwhile, several politicians and leaders met on Tuesday with the protesting wrestlers and extended their support to them, a day after they had sought solidarity from them in their fight. ■