In the wrestlers’ case, a Delhi court gives Brij Bhushan temporary release.
Former Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, who is facing sexual harassment allegations, was granted two days’ interim bail by a Delhi court. The allegations were filed by six female wrestlers, and there was a protest by some of the country’s top grapplers. Singh, a six-time Member of Parliament from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the former ruler of the wrestling body for 12 years, appeared in the Rouse Avenue court accompanied by heavy security.
The court granted interim bail to Singh and WFI official Vinod Tomar on a bail bond of ₹25,000 each, along with a surety of the same amount. The decision was based on the guidelines passed by the Supreme Court in the Satender Kumar Antil v. CBI case in 2022. According to the Supreme Court’s observations in the Antil case, in situations where the offences carry a maximum imprisonment term of seven years or less, the charge sheet is filed without the arrest of the accused, and the person has cooperated in the investigation, bail should be decided without taking the accused into custody or by granting interim bail until regular bail is decided.
The court order stated that the charge sheet had been filed without arrest, the accused had cooperated with the investigation, and the alleged offences were punishable by a maximum imprisonment term of seven years. The accused persons undertook to remain present before the court whenever called and were ready to furnish bail and comply with all bail conditions.
Singh and Tomar’s defence counsel filed bail applications, highlighting that the charge sheet had been filed without arrest and that the accused had been cooperating with the investigation. The bail applications were opposed by the additional public prosecutor.
During the proceedings, the defence counsel objected to the reporting on the charge sheet filed in the case, alleging a media trial. The court advised the counsel to submit an appropriate application regarding the matter.
The court has listed the case for July 20 to hear arguments on the regular bail applications filed by Singh and Tomar.
Renowned Indian wrestlers, including Olympian medalists Sakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia and world championship medalist Vinesh Phogat, had held protests at Jantar Mantar for 38 days, demanding Singh’s immediate arrest. The protests were suspended after separate meetings in early June with Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur, who assured the wrestlers that the charge sheet in the case would be filed by June 15.
Singh and Tomar appeared in court amidst heavy security, and the main proceedings were completed within 15 minutes. They stayed back to furnish their bail bonds, while Delhi Police and Tripura State Rifles (TSR) maintained tight security outside the courtroom. Singh and Tomar left the court under heavy security.
The charges against Singh are serious, and the initial police investigation, as listed in the charge sheet, found corroborative evidence supporting the allegations made by the six women wrestlers. This high-profile case must be handled with sensitivity and transparency, considering the nature of the allegations, which include sexual harassment and molestation, and the trust placed by some of India’s most decorated athletes in the legal system after their prolonged street protest.
The court issued a summons to the BJP MP on July 7 after taking cognizance of a 1,599-page charge sheet filed by the Delhi Police.
In the charge sheet filed on June 15, the police charged Singh under sections 354 (assault or criminal force with intent to outrage modesty), 354A (sexual harassment), and 354D (stalking) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). A conviction under Section 354 carries a maximum jail term of five years, while Sections 354A and 354D carry a maximum jail term of three years each.
Tomar, on the other hand, was charged under sections 354, 354A, 109 (abetment), and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the IPC.
The police stated in the charge sheet that a total of 108 witnesses were examined during the investigation, of whom 15 corroborated the allegations against Singh and Tomar.
Based on the investigation conducted so far, the police submitted in the charge sheet that it was established that Singh was liable to be prosecuted and punished for offences under sections 354 and 354-A of the IPC. The police also mentioned that a further supplementary charge sheet would be filed in the case pending the forensic results of digital devices and the analysis of call data records.
Singh did not provide any comment on the matter.
Singh is also facing another First Information Report (FIR) filed by a minor, who later changed her statement before a magistrate. On June 15, the police filed a 552-page cancellation report in the second FIR, indicating that no corroborative evidence was found against the accused during the investigation. The court has requested a response from the minor wrestler and her family regarding whether they agree with the police or have any objections to the cancellation report. This case is scheduled for a further hearing on August 1.