The case against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, president of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) and a BJP MP, has weakened, with the POCSO angle to the sexual harassment case being moved out. This happened when the minor among the group of seven female wrestlers who had accused Sharan Singh of sexual harassment and stalking retracted her allegations
It has been reported in the media that the 17-year-old has now provided a fresh statement under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure before a magistrate, which holds evidentiary value in court.
This latest statement casts uncertainty over the future of the charges, as the court will now be tasked with determining whether the case can proceed and which of the conflicting statements made under Section 164 will carry more weight.
Previously, in an FIR filed with the Delhi Police, the minor’s father said that Singh’s alleged sexual harassment continued to haunt her. The complaint detailed an incident in which Singh tightly held the girl, feigning a photo opportunity, but then proceeded to press forcefully against her shoulder and deliberately brushed his hands against her breasts.
On May 10, the minor initially recorded her statement before a magistrate, providing a detailed account of the sexual harassment incidents involving Singh. As a result, Singh was charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, carrying potential prison terms ranging from one to three years.
It is to be noted that, under the POCSO Act, the accused is presumed to be innocent unless proven guilty, and the entire “burden of proof” lies on the prosecution to prove the guilt of the accused. In order to obtain a favourable decision from the court, one must provide sufficient evidence to substantiate the relevant facts pertaining to their case.
With the minor now retracting her allegations, the court will play a crucial role in assessing the validity and credibility of both her withdrawal and the initial statement made under Section 164. This assessment will determine the future course of legal action in this high-profile case.