"We are witnessing a culture of impunity...which is not accidental or incidental...but it is by design," Supreme Court advocate Vrinda Grover said on Tuesday, 13 June, at a webinar organised by ANHAD and the National Alliance of People's Movement.
The topic of the webinar was, 'The Wrestlers’ Struggle: Accountability of Institutions'.
On the fact that sidelined Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief and BJP MP Brij Bhushan Singh has not been arrested yet, advocate Shahrukh Alam added that it "is also reflective of what kind of investigation is going on."
Meanwhile, former Supreme Court Justice Madan Lokur said that the apex court should have monitored the probe in the case – something that they have done in the past, and "not with the view to see that the person is convicted," but "only to see that things do not go wrong."
He also expressed surprise at the fact that Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur knew enough about the ongoing probe in the case to be able to claim that the investigation would be over by 15 June. "How did he come to know?" Justice Lokur asked.
Further, the experts on the panel decried the apparent 're-victimisation' of the survivors.
On Supreme Court's Role
Pointing out that the Supreme Court accepted the fact that the protesting wrestlers were under threat and that the WFI chief commands enough power, Justice Lokur said:
"It (Supreme Court) should not have said that if there is anything further, then you (wrestlers) should go to the magistrate or the High Court. The Supreme Court should have said that we would like to monitor the probe so that things do not go wrong."
Meanwhile, Grover and Alam lamented the fact that the Supreme Court is still "saying that we presume you (State) will act in accordance with the constitution" and "pretending that things are alright."
Alam also noted that while it is true that the Supreme Court cannot ask for an arrest in this case, it can call out manifest arbitrariness. "I do think that because of this arbitrariness the SC should have monitored the investigation," she added.
On What the Sports Minister Said
"What surprised me considerably the union minister giving the wrestlers assurance that the probe will be complete by 15 June," Justice Lokur said.
He pointed out that the only person who can make such a statement is the investigating officer, and that at best, they can tell their superior or the commissioner of police.
"Nobody else can do that..." Justice Lokur said, before adding:
"This is serious because the Supreme Court has said in any number of judgments that nobody can interfere in probes, not even the Supreme Court. What business does anybody else have? This needs investigation, [as to] what has been going on behind the scenes. Of course, no one will [probe this], but it is disconcerting."
On 'Re-Victimisation' & Chilling Effect
Expressing alarm on the reported examination of the minor in the presence of women constables for several hours, Justice Lokur said, "What was the need to examine her for 4.5 hours? She has given a statement...what was the need of this? This is nothing short of re-victimisation."
Meanwhile, Grover added: "There is a lot of talk about dignity of women. This investigation is sending a chilling effect to women and girls across the country."