Brij Bhushan pleads not guilty to charges of sexual harassment

Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh
Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh at his residence in New Delhi on June 14, 2023. Photo: IANS/Qamar Sibtain

New Delhi: A Delhi court on Tuesday framed charges of sexual harassment, intimidation and outraging the modesty of women against ex-Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief and six-time Lok Sabha MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh in a criminal case filed by female wrestlers.
Singh pleaded not guilty to the charges and claimed trial.
"Why will I plead guilty when I am not guilty?" Singh told Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (ACMM) Priyanka Rajpoot.

The court also framed the charge of criminal intimidation against co-accused and former WFI assistant secretary Vinod Tomar in the case.
The judge posted the matter for further proceedings on June 1. ACMM Rajpoot observed there was "sufficient evidence" to proceed against him.
The court framed the charges against Singh under IPC sections 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 354A (sexual harassment) and 506 (criminal intimidation). "There is sufficient evidence to frame charges against the accused," the judge said.

The court, however, discharged Singh in a complaint filed by one of the six women wrestlers, citing a lack of sufficient evidence to back her claim.
Singh, an influential Rajput leader from Uttar Pradesh, has been denied a BJP ticket from the Kaiserganj Lok Sabha seat in the wake of the sexual harassment allegations levelled against him. The BJP has fielded his son Karan Bhushan Singh in Kaiserganj, his stronghold.

The Delhi Police had filed a charge sheet in the case against Singh on June 15 under sections 354, 354A, 354D (stalking) and 506 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Another Delhi court is likely to pronounce its order in July on whether to accept a police report seeking cancellation of a sexual harassment complaint filed by a minor wrestler against Singh.
During the in-chamber proceedings held on August 1 last, the minor wrestler had told the court that she was satisfied with the Delhi Police's investigation in the case and was not opposed to the closure report it had submitted.

On June 15, 2023, the Delhi Police filed a report before the court seeking cancellation of the case involving the girl after her father made a startling claim midway through the probe that he levelled false allegations of sexual harassment against Singh to get back at him for perceived injustice to his daughter.
Police had recommended dropping the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act case against Singh, but charged him with sexual harassment and stalking in a separate case lodged on the basis of a complaint by six women wrestlers.

Police had recommended cancellation of the complaint involving the minor wrestler, saying "no corroborative evidence" was found.
The POCSO Act provides for a minimum imprisonment of three years, depending on the sections under which a crime has been registered. The closure report notwithstanding, the court has to take a call on whether to accept it or order further investigation.

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