It is up to the investigating officer to arrest WFI chief, say experts

Another Supreme Court lawyer, Rudra Vikram Singh, said that the delay in arresting Singh might be due to the primary investigation in the matter.

New Delhi: Questions are being raised as to why Delhi Police have not yet arrested BJP MP and Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh after two FIRs were registered against him on April 21, levelling serious allegations, including violations under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

According to the police, one of the two FIRs lodged against Singh on April 21 on the basis of the statements of seven grapplers has been registered under IPC Sections 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 354A (sexual harassment), and 354D (stalking), while the other has been registered under Section 10 of the POCSO Act.

For charges under Section 354A of the IPC, the punishment is up to one year or fine, while under Section 354D, the punishment is up to five years and fine. In case of Section 10 of the POCSO Act, the punishment is maximum seven years.

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As per experts, if an accused has joined the investigation, arrest is not mandatory and the decision to arrest lies with the police.

While the demand for Singh’s arrest persists due to three non-bailable and “serious” offences, legal provisions and Supreme Court rulings provide more clarity on the matter.

As per Section 41A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and various judgments by the apex court, the arrest of an accused is not obligatory if the maximum punishment prescribed for the offence is less than seven years.

Supreme Court lawyer Vineet Jindal said that the decision to make an arrest lies solely with the police authorities. However, in cases involving serious offences, it is generally considered the norm to make an arrest.

“Notably, offences under the POCSO Act are classified as non-bailable. Therefore, if there is a legitimate investigative requirement, the likelihood of an arrest occurring as a consequential action is high,” said Jindal.

Another Supreme Court lawyer, Rudra Vikram Singh, said that the delay in arresting Singh might be due to the primary investigation in the matter.

“Also, since the offences under POCSO Act and other acts allegedly committed entail a sentence of up to seven years, in these circumstances, the investigating officer might follow the compliance of provisions of Section 41 and Section 41-A of the CrPC as provided by the Supreme Court in the Amresh Kumar vs State of Bihar case. If Singh does not cooperate with the Investigating Officer (IO), the police can arrest him,” Singh said.

Last month, Singh’s statement was recorded and a Special Investigation Tema (SIT) was also formed.

“On the complaint of the wrestlers, the statement of WFI President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh was recorded and some documents were demanded. Brij Bhushan denied the allegations levelled against him. An SIT was formed with 10 police personnel, including four women officers. A 10-member team was also formed under the supervision of a woman DCP,” the Delhi Police had said.

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