SC imposes Rs. 1 lakh fine on former interim CBI-chief
A Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi held former interim CBI Chief M Nageshwar Rao "guilty of contempt" on Tuesday for transferring the officer probing Muzaffarpur shelter home case. The bench sentenced Rao to imprisonment till rising of court and imposed a fine of Rs. 1 lakh. CBI legal officer was also found guilty and slapped with the fine.
The apex court, which is monitoring CBI probe into the horrendous case, took note of Rao's decisions and came down heavily on him. Rao had transferred former joint director AK Sharma to CRPF as Additional Director after he was given reins of the federal agency last month. SC sent a contempt notice to him on February 7 and asked him to appear before the court on February 12.
SC also asked CBI Director Rishi Shukla to inform if other officers were involved in the decision. When the CBI told two other officers were involved, CJI Gogoi fumed and said they will take this "very, very seriously". "You have played with the order of the Supreme Court of India. God help you. Never play with the SC's order," CJI Gogoi had said.
In court today, Attorney General KK Venugopal, who represented Rao, urged the bench, which also comprised Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, to take a sympathetic stand. He reminded the bench that Rao had a clean record for 32 years. But CJI remained unhappy. He asked why was 'contemnor' being defended on the government's expenses. He added Rao's career will have blemishes henceforth.
"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," said an angry CJI Gogoi.
Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi says 'for contempt of court we impose a fine of Rs 1 lakh and direct him(former CBI interim director M Nageshwar Rao) to sit in one corner of the court till the court rises for the day' #MuzaffarpurShelterHome https://t.co/Xzr7kcBYd8— ANI (@ANI) February 12, 2019
Responding to the contempt notice, Rao filed an affidavit in the court on Monday. He tendered "unqualified and unconditional apology" and added the mistake wasn't deliberate. "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," he had written in the affidavit.
An audit carried out by TISS revealed that minor inmates of a shelter home in Muzaffarpur were drugged, raped and even murdered. However, the owner, Brajesh Thakur, remained scot-free for long because of his political clout. Referring to the CBI report Justice Madan B Lokur had said, "What is this going on? This is horrible." The court had ordered Thakur should be moved out of Bihar to ensure a free investigation.