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Chargesheet Filed Against WFI Chief Brij Bhushan: What Are The Charges And What Happens Next?

The charges framed against WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh include outraging a woman's modesty, sexual harassment, stalking, abetment of an offense, and criminal intimidation.

Wrestling Federation of India chief and BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh
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After a five-month-long fervent protest by India's top wrestlers, the Delhi Police has taken a step forward into the allegations of sexual harassment within the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI). On Thursday, the police filed a chargesheet against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, the outgoing WFI chief and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Member of Parliament, under sections 354, 354A, and 354D of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Additionally, a chargesheet has been filed against suspended WFI assistant secretary Vinod Tomar under section 506 and 109. These charges relate to criminal force for outraging a woman's modesty, sexual harassment, stalking, abetment of an offence, and criminal intimidation.

Chargesheet Details And Future Proceedings

The chargesheet filed against Singh and Tomar spans 1,082 pages, presenting the evidence collected by the Delhi Police during the investigation. The police have indicated that there is a possibility of supplementary charges being added if more evidence emerges during the ongoing investigation. The police said that they have not found any corroborative evidence so far in connection with the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act case against Singh.

Section 354: Outraging A Woman's Modesty

Under section 354 of the IPC, Singh and Tomar have been charged with outraging the modesty of a woman. This section defines the offence as intentionally using criminal force on a woman with the intention to outrage her modesty. The punishment for this offence can range from imprisonment for up to five years, a fine, or both. The offence is cognizable and non-bailable, allowing the police to arrest without a warrant.

Section 354A: Sexual Harassment

Singh and Tomar are also accused of sexual harassment under section 354A of the IPC. This section encompasses physical contact and advances involving unwelcome and explicit sexual overtures, demanding or requesting sexual favors, showing pornography against a woman's will, or making sexually colored remarks. The punishment for this offense can include imprisonment for up to three years, a fine, or both. Sexual harassment charges under section 354A are cognizable but bailable.

Section 354D: Stalking And Other Charges

Singh has been separately charged with stalking under section 354D of the IPC. Stalking was made a punishable offense under section 354D after the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013. The punishment for stalking can be imprisonment for up to three years for first-time offenders and up to five years for subsequent convictions. Criminal intimidation and abetment of an offense carry their own penalties as defined by the IPC.

Additional Charges Against Tomar

Criminal Intimidation and Abetment: Tomar is charged with criminal intimidation under section 506 of the IPC, which entails threatening another person with injury, reputation damage, or property damage to coerce their actions. He also faces charges of abetment of an offense under section 109, which deals with aiding and instigating the commission of a crime.

Protests And Ongoing Investigation

The chargesheet comes after several months of protests by wrestlers, led by Olympic bronze medal winners Sakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia, who accused Singh of sexually harassing female athletes. The initial protests took place in January, followed by a temporary halt and subsequent resumption in April due to alleged government inaction. Despite the widespread support garnered during the protests, the wrestlers claimed that no significant action had been taken against Singh, who continued to attend meetings and make public appearances.

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Government Response And Wrestlers' Demands

In response to the wrestlers' demands, Sports Minister Anurag Thakur assured them that a chargesheet would be filed against Singh and that the police investigation would be concluded by a specified deadline. Following a six-hour meeting between Thakur and the wrestlers, it was agreed that no further protests would be staged until June 15. The government also committed to conducting the pending WFI elections by June 30.

What Will Happen Next?

Currently, Singh is not under arrest, and his appearance in court over the charges is pending next month. Additionally, the Delhi Police Department filed a separate report regarding an allegation against Singh by a minor. While the police stated that there was no corroborative evidence, prosecutors sought to suspend the case, which, if not suspended, would have resulted in Singh's automatic arrest under laws designed to protect minors. The outcome of these developments remains to be seen.

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