The Delhi High Court on Friday criticised the Central Bureau of Investigation for maligning the reputation of wrestler Narsingh Yadav, who faces charges of doping, by selectively leaking some parts of its status report on its probe in the case.
Yadav had tested positive for a banned drug methandienone three weeks before the 2016 Rio Olympics and was banned for four years. The 74-kg wrestler had then alleged sabotage without naming anyone in particular, saying his food at the national camp in Sonepat had been spiked.
Observing that due to the leaking of contents of the status report on the probe into Yadav’s complaint of sabotage, he has been maligned in a manner that is irreparable. The Court asked the investigating agency’s joint director to look into the matter.
The court had on February 1, directed the CBI to file its status report in a sealed cover. Justice Najmi Waziri, after going through the report, remarked that interestingly, the same narration is reflected in some media reports.
The CBI counsel stated that the report was filed in the court on January 31 in a sealed cover and had the stamp of registry.
“The matter is under investigation, it is deemed to be privileged information, yet it finds its way into public domain and is published much to the prejudice and anguish of the petitioner (Yadav),” the court said.
“Without commenting on the freedom of press and investigative journalism, the court is concerned on the conduct of the investigating agency and its inability to keep the information secured,” it added.
When CBI counsel Ripu Daman Bhardwaj said he did not know from where the information was leaked to the press, the court said it was a serious issue.
“You cannot leak selectively. It is a serious matter. Enough is enough. Do you realise what has been done to his repute. You cannot malign him like this. For a sportsperson, fairness and integrity is everything, besides his skills. The matter is still under investigation,” the judge said.
The recent media reports were brought the court’s knowledge by Yadav’s counsel Kuldeep Sehrawat and Naveen Sehrawat who said he was aggrieved that the contents of the investigation report were published in media, even though it was ordered to be filed in a sealed cover. Media reports earlier this week claimed that the Central Bureau of Investigation has dismissed the sabotage theory floated by him with support from the Wrestling Federation of India.
The court also questioned the agency for delaying the probe and asked the CBI to file a report on the status of the case. It noted that Yadav has been banned from the sport till March 2020 and said, “It is appropriate that the investigation be completed at the earliest.”
The court listed the matter for further hearing on March 29. The court had earlier issued a notice to the CBI and asked it to file its response regarding status of the investigation and how it has pursued the matter.
Prior to the Court of Arbitration for Sport decision, the National Anti-Doping Agency had cleared Yadav for the 2016 Rio Olympics. He was going to represent India in the men’s freestyle 74 kg category.
It had earlier also asked the CBI what it had been doing since he made the complaint and added that the agency should look at it from the point of view of the sportsperson who has a “short shelf-life”, especially in contact sports like wrestling and boxing. The CBI had told the court that the agency had to question members of the CAS panel who had taken the final decision to slap the four-year ban on Yadav.
Yadav has moved the court for speedy disposal of his complaint, saying that it has been pending before the agency since 2016. He has claimed that he had made several representations to the agency to complete the probe, but nothing had happened till date.