Supreme Court on Tuesday held former interim director M Nageswara Rao and the CBI legal advisor guilty of contempt for transferring head of the CBI team probing the Muzaffarpur shelter home case without consulting the apex court.
Rejecting Rao’s unconditional apology, bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi imposed a fine of Rs 1 lakh for contempt and asked Rao and CBI legal advisor to sit in court till the court rises at four as punishment for their defiance of court orders. The court directed them to deposit within a week time. The punishment will go into their official records.
CJI Gogoi was also unhappy with Attorney General KK Venugopal’s explanation that Rao made an error of judgment in transferring Joint Director AK Sharma without court’s nod and that it was not wilful.
CJI demanded to know why the court’s prior permission was not sought for this. Rao had tendered an unconditional apology yesterday in a written affidavit.
The AG tried hard to prevail upon the court not to punish Rao. But the CJI did not relent. He said that Rao has acted on legal advice which was based on a wrong assessment of court orders.
The CJI said the fact that Rao knew of the court order and still transferred Sharma was enough to make out the offence of contempt. Sharma was not only transferred but also the order given effect to without informing the court.
Former CBI interim chief and now additional director Rao had yesterday submitted an unconditional apology to the court over his action. In an affidavit, he admitted that he should have taken the court’s permission before transferring the officer. He tendered an unconditional apology saying he would not even dream of violating court orders.
“I ought not have agreed with the legal advice for relieving AK Sharma even on his promotion without prior approval of Supreme Court,” said Rao in his apology.
A three judge bench, led by CJI Ranjan Gogoi, had at the last hearing issued contempt notices to him. In a stern message, the court had said that officers must obey the law and not “politicians” or “bureaucrats”. “The law is your master not politicians or bureaucrats,” the CJI had said.
“You have played with the court’s orders. God help you if you have played with the court’s orders,” he had said.
Last week on Thursday, Supreme Court sought personal appearance on February 12 of M Nageswara Rao‚ and one other official, in-charge of Director Prosecution, associated in the transfer of central investigative agency officer AK Sharma.
More than 40 minor girls were allegedly sexually assaulted over a period of time in the shelter home which was run by state-funded NGO by Brajesh Thakur.
(Inputs from agencies)
Source: Economic Times