A Supreme Court bench headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi on Tuesday held CBI Additional Director M Nageswara Rao guilty of contempt of court for transferring CBI Joint Director AK Sharma, the officer heading the investigation in the Muzaffarpur shelter home rape case in violation of the orders of the apex court.
The Court sentenced him to imprisonment till the rising of the Court and imposed a fine of Rs one lakh — to be deposited within a week — after Gogoi noted that the transfer orders were passed by him despite knowing that the top court had ordered that the investigation team should not be changed. Additional legal advisor Bhasuran S was also held guilty of contempt and punished in the same manner. "You both go and sit in one corner of the court till we rise," Justice Gogoi told Rao and Bhasuran, News18 reported.
"Would heavens have fallen if the relieving order was passed after taking the SC into confidence", CJI Gogoi asked.
Attorney General KK Venugopal, appearing for Rao, made a fervent plea for leniency, saying that Rao's mistake was not willful. However, Gogoi asked Venugopal why a contemnor was being defended at the court's expense.
Gogoi said that Rao's action was "brazen contempt" and that he deserved no leniency. "Even if we accept his apology, his career record will remain blemished, as he has acted in contempt by his own admission, the CJI remarked.
"Rao wrote a note that affidavit be filed in the Supreme Court regarding the transfer of Sharma. However, no affidavit was filed, rather Rao signed order relieving Sharma from CBI. If it isn't a Contempt then what?" the CJI asked the AG. "We can't accept arguments advanced by AG," he said.
CJI, in the end, asked Rao and S Bhasu Ram, the Director of Prosecution, whether they have anything to say. Both the officers sought the court's apology with folded hands.
On Monday, Rao had filed an affidavit, stating that the transfer order was issued by mistake and had offered an unconditional and unqualified apology to the court saying that he had no intention to circumvent its orders. However, the CJI came down heavily on Rao on Tuesday holding of guilty and severely condemning his action. Earlier, on 7 February, the bench had called out CBI for transferring Sharma, who was probing the shelter home cases and had directed its then interim chief Rao to personally appear before it on 12 February.
CJI Gogoi took serious note of violation of the two earlier orders of the court and issued a contempt notice to Rao for transferring Sharma to the CRPF on 17 January without taking prior permission from the court. The bench, which also comprised Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, directed CBI Director Rishi Kumar Shukla to give the names of officers who were part of the process in transferring Sharma out of the probe agency, Live Law reported.
However, the court maintained that Sharma won't come back to join the shelter home rape case probe, News18 reported.
Besides Rao, the bench also sought the appearance of all other CBI officers who were involved in the transfer process. It also directed for the presence of Ram, in-charge Director of Prosecution CBI, for violating its order.
Several girls were allegedly raped and sexually abused at an NGO-run shelter home in Bihar's Muzaffarpur and the issue had come to light following a report by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in July 2018.
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Updated Date: Feb 12, 2019 12:56:30 IST