NEW DELHI :
A stiff talking-to perhaps, a warning, or even a fine. But a detention, reminiscent of the worst kind of school punishment, wouldn’t be something the government’s former top investigator would have signed up for after decades in service.
Former interim director the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) M. Nageswara Rao and the agency’s legal advisor S. Bhasuram were on Tuesday made to sit in a courtroom of the Supreme Court until it finished hearing all listed matters before it.
A bench headed by an annoyed Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi ordered the two officials to sit in a corner of the room: “Go to the corner of the court and sit down till the court rises," Gogoi ordered.
The officers were held guilty of contempt of court after they transferred a CBI officer, A.K. Sharma, in the middle of his probe into the Muzaffarpur shelter homes case without consulting the court.
They were also ordered to deposit ₹1 lakh each with the court within a week as penalty for defying court orders.
“It is a case where contempt has been committed by both the then acting CBI director, M. Nageswara Rao, and the director prosecution of the CBI," the court said, referring to the fact that the probe into alleged sexual offences against young women and girls in Muzaffarpur, Bihar, is being held under the court’s supervision.
In doing so, Gogoi rejected Rao’s unconditional and unqualified apology, where the former police officer said, “I have not wilfully violated the orders of this hon’ble court, as I cannot even dream of violating or circumventing the order of this court, and admit that in view of the orders dated 31.10.2018 and 28.11.2018, I ought to not have agreed with the legal advice for relieving Mr. A.K. Sharma without prior approval of this hon’ble court."
The order came despite attempts by attorney general K.K. Venugopal to persuade the court to accept the apology and let the two men go with a warning. He added that Rao had acted on legal advice based on an incorrect assessment of court orders.“To err is human, to forgive is divine," Venugopal submitted, quoting the 18th century English poet Alexander Pope.
The apex court came down heavily on Rao on 7 February for transferring Sharma from supervising the shelter home probe in violation of its order. Following this, a visibly angry Gogoi summoned Rao and other officers concerned with Sharma’s transfer to be present in court on Tuesday.
PTI contributed to this story.