In a case concerning the transfer of probing officer in the Bihar shelter home case despite a court order against it, the Supreme Court on Tuesday pulled up M Nageswara Rao who was the former CBI interim director.
The top court also held Rao and the Central Bureau of Investigation’s legal officer guilty of contempt of court and fined them Rs 1 lakh each. A bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi signalled that Rao may not be off the hook in the contempt case.
CJI Gogoi asked attorney general KK Venugopal, who appeared for Rao, “would heavens have fallen” if the transfer order for CBI officer AK Sharma, who was investigating the Bihar shelter home case involving alleged abuse of minor girls, was not issued.
Venugopal informed the top court that the former CBI interim chief did not “do it willfully and throws himself to the mercy of the court. Holding him guilty of contempt would result in his career being ruined.”
“Mr Attorney, let us be very clear. I don’t think any of us ever had the occasion to invoke a contempt power. But it has to be the first time. Speaking for myself I believe dignity and majesty of court should be maintained and this is blatant,” an angry CJI Gogoi said.
Rao, earlier, apologised to the Supreme Court for issuing the order of transfer of Sharma.
Last week, the same bench termed the transfer decision “full contempt of court” because one of its earlier orders explicitly said Sharma should not be shifted. The court summoned Rao and the agency’s acting director of prosecution S Bhasuran on February 12. It also asked the CBI director to identify officers who were involved in the transfer of Sharma from CBI.
Sharma, a joint director in the CBI, was the senior-most supervising officer in the Bihar shelter home case and the court, in two orders dated October 31 and November 28, said he should not be transferred.
After his transfer, Sharma was appointed the additional director general in the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). Records placed before the court indicated that agency’s acting director of prosecution S Bhasuran had given an opinion favouring the transfer.
Bhasuran had also apologised to the top court.
A report by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) had highlighted that dozens of girls lodged at a government funded-shelter home in Muzaffarpur were allegedly being sexually assaulted.