Confirming over a dozen sexual harassment cases, the SAI has failed to bring any punishment to its employees including coaches, officials and technicians. The SAI, however, announced that it has taken disciplinary action in nine of the cases and asked the employees involved to go on leave.
At least six of the 15 cases that The Indian Express has come across with various profiles quoting instances of coaches , officials and technicians allegedly harassing women athletes have either gone unnoticed by the SAI or have not been taken cognisance of.
Dismissing the issue as part of a “social issue”, the SAI officials have failed to carry out a proper investigation in most of the cases, and all have reached a halt, either pending their due course of law or being dismissed.
“There have been charges against some employees of the National Institute of Sports and Sports Authority of India in connection with sexual harassment charges. Some of the cases are pending in the court. There have been findings of the inquiry. Examinations are underway with some of the allegations. However, in nine cases, no action has been taken because of the inquiry. The accused has been asked to take leave from the SAI. In the remaining cases, the investigation is underway,” General Manager of SAI Narottam Sharma, who looks after the Human Resource Department, told The Indian Express.
One of the cases cited by officials is of former national tennis coach Amboli Omprakash who was suspended by the SAI last year following a sexual harassment complaint filed by a junior player. The case has reached the case of the North and East Zone Sports Improvement Committee (NEISC) which has held a hearing against Omprakash on March 4 at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium.
Omprakash told The Indian Express that he had not received any message of punishment even after the findings were accepted by the NEISC. “After the Supreme Court asked for the details of the cases, I did not receive any alert. I still have not received any notification. There has been no action taken,” Omprakash said.
“In another case, the NHRC had taken cognisance of the investigation and removed them from the board as there was evidence of harassment. It was carried out by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports,” an official said.
In another case, which is still at an initial stage, a senior coach had been accused of harassing a male athlete during the technical session for the World Junior Indoor Championship in Assam.
The SAI officials did not comment on the matter of the case of the junior athlete, but an official said the department had taken action in accordance with the law. “The case came to the attention of the department because it was brought to our notice. And in accordance with the law, the action was taken,” the official said.
In the statement issued to The Indian Express, the SAI said “there have been specific cases where the allegations were not realised and an inquiry was held.” The authorities said the public mentions of an alleged sexual harassment case made by a coach in 2016 had “caused a lot of misunderstanding in the minds of people.” “Every case of sexual harassment will be taken up and whenever the concerned institute is not able to cope with the problem, the advisory will be given to the concerned institute or division office to take legal recourse,” the statement read.
Besides, SAI said those accused in sexual harassment cases were not issued any show-cause notice as per the provisions of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2013 (of 2013).