Ex-acting CBI chief held guilty of contempt, sentenced till rising of court

The Supreme Court on Tuesday held former acting Director of CBI M. Nageswara Rao guilty of contempt of court and sentenced him along with agency’s legal advisor S. Bhasuran till the rising of the court.

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice Sanjiv Khanna also fined them Rs 1 lakh each.

Chief Justice Gogoi said that in his last 20 years as a judge, he had not compromised on the dignity and honour of the court.

Rao and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)’s legal advisor earned the wrath of the court for relieving former Additional Director A.K. Sharma from the agency without taking prior nod of the top court.

Holding Rao guilty of contempt of court, the judges noted that on January 18, 2019, when Sharma was relieved, Rao was aware of the court’s two orders asking the people concerned to approach the court first.

However, the same day, he signed a draft order sent by Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) relieving Sharma from the CBI without satisfying whether the top court had been taken into confidence.

Sharma, who was heading the investigating team probing the Muzaffarpur shelter home horror case, had said that he could not be shunted out as the CBI needed to take the court’s permission.

Not accepting the “unconditional” apology tendered by Nageswara Rao and Bhasuran, the court in its order said: “The apology tendered, though stated to be unconditional, is not so. There is a contention that the action were not wilful, with which we do not agree.”

“We do not understand nor can we appreciate and comprehend how Mr. Nageswara Rao… being aware of the court’s order, as the first note signed by him would indicate, and when he sought an affidavit to be filed before this court by his second note dated 18. 1. 2019, could without satisfying himself that this court has been taken into confidence approve the draft order relieving Mr. A.K. Sharma from the CBI and giving additional charge to G.K. Goswami.”

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