Tribune News Service
New Delhi, February 12
The Supreme Court on Tuesday held former CBI interim director M Nageswar Rao guilty of contempt of court for having transferred chief investigating officer in Muzaffarpur shelter home sex abuse case in violation of its order.
A bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi sentenced him till rising of the court and imposed a fine of Rs 1 lakh on him.
“Please go and sit in one corner of the court. Fine be deposited in one week,” ordered the Bench.
Terming his conduct as “blatant” and “brazen”, the CJI said he had rarely invoked contempt power in the past 20 years.
However, the man whose transfer led to the entire controversy--former chief investigating officer AK Sharma, wouldn’t come back to the probe team, said the Bench.
Earlier, Rao appeared before the Supreme Court and tendered an unconditional apology for having transferred chief investigating officer in Muzaffarpur shelter home sex abuse case in violation of its order.
Rao appeared before a Bench headed by Chief Justice Gogoi--which had summoned him for defying the top court’s order not to transfer the investigating officer without its prior permission.
As Attorney General KK Venugopal, representing Rao, said it was a mistake but not a willful disobedience.
As Venugopal requested the court to take a sympathetic view, the CJI asked, “Why should a contemnor be defended at government expenses?”
“To err is human,” submited the Attorney General.
“Would heavens fall if the relieving order was passed after taking the court into confidence?” the CJI asked.
When Venugopal mentioned his clean career record, the CJI said, “Even if we accept his apology, his career record will remain blemished as he has acted in contempt by his own admission.”
In his affidavit, Rao said, “I unhesitatingly accept my mistake and tender my unconditional and unequivocal apology to this Honourable Court.”
While maintaining that he couldn’t have agreed to the legal advice to relieve AK Sharma even on his promotion without the court’s permission, Rao submitted, “I cannot even dream of violating or circumventing the orders of the Honourable Court.”
Angry at mishandling of the Muzaffarpur shelter home sexual abuse cases, the Supreme Court had on Thursday transferred the trial from Bihar to a court in Delhi and also summoned former interim CBI director M Nageswara Rao for allegedly transferring an officer involved in the probe against its order.
A Bench headed by Chief Justice Gogoi ordered that the cases would now be transferred from a CBI Special Court in Bihar to a POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) court at Saket in two weeks. The POCSO court had to conclude the trial in six months, it ordered.
Taking exception to the transfer of Sharma, probing the Muzaffarpur shelter home sex abuse cases, despite an order to the contrary, it summoned former interim CBI director M Nageswara Rao over Sharma’s transfer. It asked Rao to appear before it on February 12 and directed the CBI to identify other officers involved in Sharma’s transfer.
Sharma was supervising the probe but on January 17 his tenure in the CBI was curtailed and he was transferred to the CRPF amid internal squabbling in the probe agency. “We are going to take it very…very seriously. You have played with the order of Supreme Court of India. God help you. Never play with the Supreme Court’s order,” said the CJI after the CBI counsel submitted that two officials, including Rao, were involved in the transfer.
The shelter home sex abuse issue came to light in May last year following a report by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) that several girls, including minor ones, were allegedly raped and sexually abused at an NGO-run shelter home in Muzaffarpur.
The top court had on October 30 ordered shifting of prime accused Brajesh Thakur from Bhagalpur jail in Bihar to a high-security prison in Patiala, Punjab. It was his NGO which ran the shelter home where the horrific crime took place.
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