Neary two months after The Indian Express reported that 45 cases of sexual harassment were reported at 24 centres run by the Sports Authority of India (SAI) between 2010 and 2019, and that many cases have dragged on for years, the organisation said action has been taken in nine out of 14 unresolved complaints.
The remaining five cases, SAI said, “are on the verge of being settled, and will be closed within the next two weeks”.
On January 17, a day after The Indian Express cited data obtained under the Right to Information (RTI) Act and official reports to report that 29 of the 45 complaints were made by athletes against their coaches, Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju had asked for all pending cases to be disposed of within a month. The report had also pointed to lenient punishments in a number of cases.
On Monday, SAI said that in the nine cases that have been closed, “a major penalty” has been imposed on coaches in two while two were censured and one placed on probation. It said that while three coaches have been exonerated, one case has been referred to a coach’s “parent department for inquiry” as he is on deputation.
“The Sports Authority of India has conducted the inquiry of 9 out of the 14 pending cases of sexual harassment filed by athletes and has handed out punishment, as per rule, where the alleged coach has been found guilty. Five cases are on the verge of being settled, and will be closed within the next two weeks,” SAI said in a statement.
The organisation, which comes under the Sports Ministry, said its committee on sexual harassment “has taken a very strict view, leading to one coach being imposed with compulsory retirement and in the second, where the coach is retired, withholding of the entire amount of gratuity”.
“In three cases, the charges could not be established to the extend (sic) of Sexual Harassment. Even then, in order to establish high degree of discipline among the coaches and based on the recommendation of Internal Complaint Committee (ICC), two coaches are censured/ warned and in the case of one coach, the probation is extended for two more years,” it said.
Of the five remaining cases, SAI said the inquiry has concluded in three and that its committee was expected to submit its report by “this week itself”. “In two cases, the delay occurred due to non-response of Charged Officers as they failed to submit their written statement in given time. It has been decided to conduct inquiry ex parte considering the gravity of the case. These cases are expected to close by March 15, 2020,” SAI said.
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