The Supreme Court today (February 12, 2019) held CBI Additional Director M. Nageswara Rao guilty of contempt of court for transferring the investigating officer heading the probe in Muzaffarpur shelter home case in violation of the orders of the Court.
A Bench headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi rejected Rao’s unconditional apology and sentenced him till the rising of the Court and imposed a fine of Rs 1 lakh.
The Bench also found guilty S. Bhasu Ram, in-charge Director of Prosecution CBI, who offered legal advice regarding the transfer orders and was awarded the same punishment as given to Rao.
Attorney General K.K. Venugopal, appearing for Rao, pleaded for leniency saying that Rao's mistake was not willful. However, CJI said that Rao's action was 'brazen contempt' and that he deserved no leniency.
CJI demanded to know why the court's prior permission was not sought for this. "Would the heavens have fallen if the relieving orders were passed after taking the SC into confidence,” CJI asked the AG.
"I have not invoked contempt powers and punished anyone in the last 20 years. But this is brazen,” CJI said.
A day before, Rao had filed an affidavit in the apex court offering unconditional and unqualified apology stating that "I sincerely realise my mistake and while tendering my unqualified and unconditional apology, I specially state I have not wilfully violated the order of this court as I cannot even dream of violating or circumventing order of this court.” However, the court rejected his apology and found him guilty of contempt of court.
Earlier, on February 7, 2019, the Bench came down heavily on CBI for transferring its former Joint Director A.K. Sharma, who was probing Bihar's shelter home cases, out of the agency in violation of the court's order that the investigation team should not be changed. The Bench directed its then interim chief M. Nageswara Rao to personally appear before it on February 12, 2019.
Taking note of the grave violation of two earlier orders of the apex court, the Bench issued contempt notice to Rao for transferring Sharma to the CRPF on January 17 without taking prior permission from the court.
More than 40 minor girls were allegedly sexually abused at an NGO-run shelter home in Muzaffarpur, the issue had come to light following a report by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS).