New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday held former CBI interim director M. Nageswara Rao and in-charge prosecution S. Bhasuran guilty of contempt of court for disobeying its order to not transfer out Additional Director A.K. Sharma, who was probing the Bihar shelter home cases.
Refusing to accept the unconditional apology tendered by Rao on Monday, a bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice Sanjiv Khanna on Tuesday directed him to sit in the courtroom for the remaining working hours for the day. It also levied a fine of Rs. 1 lakh on him.
“The dignity of the court must be maintained, but this is brazen,” he said.
Rao and Bhasuran earned the wrath of the court for transferring Sharma from the CBI after his promotion as the Additional Director General, CRPF, without taking the apex court’s permission.
The top court had in an October 31, 2018 order said, “Sharma would continue to be the senior most officer as apart of investigating team.”
Later on November 28, the court stated, “We make it clear that Mr. A.K. Sharma, Additional Director in charge of investigations, would continue to remain in-charge of investigations and the expanded team including new members will report to him directly.”
The November 28 order had been passed after the CBI agreed to expand the scope of Muzaffarpur shelter home investigation to other shelter homes in Bihar as well.
After his transfer, Sharma moved the apex court saying he could not be transferred as the CBI needed to take the court’s permission.
Appearing for Rao on Tuesday, Attorney General K.K. Venugopal called his decision an “error of judgment” and not “wilful disobedience” of the Supreme Court order and urged the court to take a merciful approach.
However, CJI Gogoi observed repeatedly that Rao was in the know of the top court orders, and told the Attorney General, “Look at what he says, but his conduct post January 18, 2018… he does not feel the need to inform the court.”
Holding Rao guilty of contempt of court, the SC Bench noted that on January 18, when Sharma was transferred, Rao was aware of the two apex court orders and had asked him to approach the court.
The same day, however, he signed a draft order sent by the DoPT relieving Sharma from the CBI without taking the apex court into confidence.