The Leaflet

| @theleaflet_in | February 12,2019

TODAY, the Supreme Court of India has held former interim Director of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), M Nageswara Rao, guilty of contempt of court for transferring the Joint Director A K Sharma, who was the investigating officer in the Muzaffarpur shelter home case.

The three-judge bench of the Supreme Court comprising Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, Justices L Nageswara Rao and Sanjiv Khanna convicted Rao and Director of Prosecution Bhasuran for Contempt of Court, while the Court imposed a fine of rupees one lakh on each of them and sentenced them to sit in a corner of the Chief Justice’s Court till the rising of the Bench today.

In October, the Supreme Court had barred Nageswara Rao from taking policy decisions and had instructed the agency to submit a list of all decisions he had taken since being appointed on October 23, 2018. The Court had specifically directed that no officer investigating the Bihar shelter homes case should be transferred without its permission.

Nageswara Rao who was summoned by the Court today, February 12, 2019, tendered an unconditional apology before the Supreme Court for transferring investigating officer A K Sharma without the leave of the court. In his affidavit, Nageswara Rao said: I sincerely realize my mistake and while tendering my unqualified and unconditional apology, I especially state I have not willfully violated the order of this court as I cannot even dream of violating or circumventing order of this court…I shouldn’t have transferred AK Sharma without Supreme Court’s nod”. 

Arguments in Chief Justice’s Courtroom

 

Former interim director CBI M Nageswara Rao and other CBI officials who are involved in transferring the investigating officer, A K Sharma, appeared in the Chief Justice of India’s Court in pursuance to the summon issued by the Supreme Court against the contempt of its order.

Attorney General for India, Mr K K Venugopal, who appeared for the CBI and M Nageswara Rao, submitt​​ed to the Court that “Rao has put himself to the mercy of the court”.

The Chief Justice of India asked the Attorney General, “this much is very obvious from file noting that Nageshwara Rao knew about the Supreme Court order of not transferring any probe officers without leave of the court”. Chief Justice of India further said, “Nageswara Rao wrote a note that affidavit is filed in the Supreme Court regarding the transfer of A K Sharma. However, no affidavit was filed, rather Rao signed order relieving A K Sharma from CBI. If it isn’t a Contempt then what?

On this, the Attorney General read out the reasons for Rao to transfer the Joint-Director of CBI and supervising-officer A K Sharma. Thw Attorney General also added that Rao admitted that he had made a mistake that it was not willful.

Then the Chief Justice of India questioned the Attorney General, “The heavens would fall if the relieving order would have passed after taking the Supreme Court in confidence?”

Referring to Rao’s clean career record, the Attorney General sought for “sympathetic consideration in the matter”.

Chief Justice of India inquired, “If we hold Nageswara Rao guilty of Contempt, that we are going to do, who is going to make submissions on sentencing?

Attorney General submitted that “conviction for Contempt will destroy the career of the officer concerned”.

Chief Justice of India rebutted that “even if we accept the apology of Nageswara Rao, his career is no more unblemished. He is guilty of Contempt by his own admission”. The Chief Justice of India also asked, “Why should a contemnor be defended at government expenses?

CJI Gogoi remarked: “I have always maintained that dignity of the court cannot be maintained by invoking Contempt. But this case is a blatant violation of the Court’s order”.

To err is human and forgive is divine“, submitted Attorney General.

Then, the three-judge bench of the Supreme Court comprising Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, Justices L Nageswara Rao and Sanjiv Khanna held former interim director M Nageswara Rao and Director of Prosecution Bhasuran guilty of Contempt of Court, the Court imposed a fine of rupees one lakh on each of them and sentences them to sit in a corner of the Chief Justice’s Court till the rising of the Bench today.

On the rising issues of contempt, CJI Ranjan Gogoi also remarked: “Let us be clear Mr Attorney General, I don’t think any of us ever had the occasion to invoke contempt. But there has to be a full stop. The dignity and majesty of the Court should be maintained.

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