The National Human Rights Commission issued a notice to the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports on Thursday over reports that the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) and four other bodies do not have an internal complaints committee to address sexual harassment charges.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has also sent notices to the Sports Authority of India (SAI), the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the WFI and several other national sports federations over reports that they either do not even have an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) or a properly functional ICC as required by law, according to a statement issued by the rights panel.
The notices come at a time when several wrestlers are protesting at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi demanding the sacking and arrest of WFI president and BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh over charges of sexual harassment of women grapplers.
The NHRC has taken "suo motu cognisance of a media report that there is no Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) in the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) as mandated by the Prevention of Sexual Harassment (PoSH) Act, 2013".
"Reportedly, the wrestling body is not the only one not having a duly constituted ICC. In addition to it, there are as many as 15 of the 30 national sports federations who do not meet this mandatory requirement," the statement said.
The Commission has observed that the contents of the media report, if true, amount to a violation of the law, and thus is a matter of concern as it may impact the legal right and dignity of the sportspersons.
Accordingly, it has issued notices to the secretary, department of sports in the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports; the SAI, the BCCI, the WFI, and 15 other national sports federations of handball, volleyball, basketball, weightlifting, yachting, gymnastics, table tennis, billiards and snooker, kayaking and canoeing, judo, squash, triathlon, kabaddi, badminton, and archery, as mentioned in the news report, "which either do not have even an ICC or properly functional ICC as required in the law", the statement said.
These sports bodies have been asked to submit detailed reports within four weeks including the present status of the ICC in their organisation as well as the steps taken or proposed to be taken to address the issue, the rights panel said.
According to the media report published on May 4, "five federations, including the WFI, do not even have an ICC. Four federations do not have the stipulated number of members and another six federations lack the mandatory external members. It is also stated that one federation had two panels, but neither had an independent member," the statement said.
The protesting wrestlers and their supporters on Thursday wore black bands, observing it as a 'Black Day' as their agitation against the WFI chief entered the 18th day.