Days after protesting wrestlers decided to postpone their decision to immerse their Olympic medals in the waters of the Ganga, the movement and protest seem to be simmering down with some of them joining back their duties at the Railways. Not only this, the criminal cases, especially the one filed by the minor victim with Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) charges, against Wrestling Federation of India chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh seem to be in flux.
Recently, CNN-News18 through its sources learnt that the minor victim, on whose complaint a POCSO case was lodged against the BJP MP, went to Delhi’s Patiala House Courts last week to re-record her statement under section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
While many are terming it a setback to the serious charges and the formation of an escape tunnel for Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, legal experts and analysis of various case laws present a different side to the story.
Speaking to CNN-News18 on the issue, Supreme Court lawyer Ashwini Dubey said, “There is no provision per se to withdraw a case under POCSO as these are non-compoundable offences.”
“The complainant may withdraw her statement. However, FIR under POCSO Act cannot be quashed merely upon withdrawal of the statement. It is up to the court to analyse statements and then the accused may be discharged if grounds and evidence are found to be frivolous,” he said.
Advocate Ashish Dixit, who argues frequently before the Supreme Court and the Delhi High Court, said, “If a complainant or witness retracts or changes a statement, then the credibility of such person becomes intriguing. If the girl has retracted her statement before magistrate under section 164 CRPC with regard to allegations on which POCSO was invoked, then police may drop provisions of POCSO from the charge sheet. But in case police discover other substantive evidence with regard to POCSO offences, they would be within their rights to file a charge sheet containing POCSO offences. In such circumstances, mere withdrawal of allegations by the complainant would not alter the course of the case.”
The High Court of Himachal Pradesh in State of Himachal Pradesh vs Deshraj had held that the “statement of the victim is of great importance in cases under the POCSO Act”.
Last week, Olympic medallists Sakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia, and Asian Games gold medallist Vinesh Phogat went to Har Ki Pauri in Haridwar along with their supporters to throw their medals into the Ganga. However, they relented after khap and farmer leaders sought five days’ time to address their grievances.
The wrestlers, who had been protesting at Jantar Mantar in Delhi since April 23, seeking the arrest of Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, were removed from the site by the police on May 28 after they tried to march to the new Parliament building that was inaugurated the same day.