Wrestlers Move SC Seeking Permission To File Affidavit In Sealed Cover

Indian wrestlers Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia, and Sakshi Malik address a news conference as they take part in a sit-in protest demanding arrest of Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief, who they accuse of sexually harassing female players, in New Delhi, India, April 24, 2023. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

New Delhi- The seven women wrestlers, who have levelled allegations of sexual harassment against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, on Wednesday moved the Supreme Court seeking permission to file an affidavit in sealed cover.

On April 28, Delhi Police had filed two FIRs against Singh on the allegations of the wrestlers, hours after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Delhi Police, had told the apex court that a case will be registered on Friday.

On Wednesday, the counsel representing the women wrestlers mentioned the matter before a bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice P S Narasimha and said he was seeking permission to file the affidavit in sealed cover before the court, which is slated to hear the matter on Thursday.

He said they don’t have any problem in supplying the copy of the affidavit to the solicitor general but it should not go in public domain.

The bench permitted the counsel to bring the sealed cover affidavit on Thursday with advance copy to Mehta.

Mehta told the bench that investigation is going on in the case and the petitioners’ can share these materials with the investigation officer.

When Mehta asked if he can share the material with the investigation officer, the bench said, “alright”.

The country’s top wrestlers have been on a sit-in at Jantar Mantar in Delhi demanding action against Singh.

On April 26, Delhi Police had told the top court that some kind of preliminary probe was needed before it can proceed with the registration of an FIR over the sexual harassment allegations. The top court had on Tuesday last issued notices to Delhi Police and others on a plea by the seven women wrestlers, saying the matter is “serious” and requires consideration.

Several national award winning wrestlers have been protesting at Jantar Mantar demanding the government make public the findings of an oversight panel that investigated the sexual harassment allegations against Singh, also a BJP MP.

The wrestlers had asserted they won’t leave the protest site until Singh is arrested. They had resumed their sit-in protest on Sunday and demanded that the findings of the oversight panel that investigated the allegations be made public.

The committee was set up by the Sports ministry in January after the wrestlers held a three-day sit-in.

Top wrestlers such as Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik staged a sit-in protest at Jantar Mantar in January and accused the WFI boss of sexual exploitation and intimidation. The wrestlers had demanded that WFI be disbanded and its president removed.

The sports ministry had then formed an oversight committee headed by boxing great MC Mary Kom on January 23 and asked it to submit its findings in one month.

Later, it extended the deadline by two weeks and also added Babita Phogat to the probe panel as its sixth member at the insistence of the protesting wrestlers.

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