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Sunday, Sep 22, 2019

‘Played with our order’: SC says CBI’s Nageswara Rao in contempt of court

A bench led by the CJI also observed that “it appears from the records that the Cabinet committee on appointments (ACC) that approved the transfer of AK Sharma was not informed of the prevailing Supreme Court orders.

india Updated: Feb 07, 2019 23:36 IST
Ashok
Ashok
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Supreme Court, in New Delhi on February 6.
Supreme Court, in New Delhi on February 6.(Amal KS/HT PHOTO)
         

The Supreme Court on Thursday came down hard on the Central Bureau of Investigation’s (CBI) additional director M Nageswara Rao for the decision, on January 17, when he was interim director of the agency, to transfer out of CBI joint director AK Sharma, the senior-most supervising officer in the Bihar shelter home case involving the sexual abuse of minors housed in a shelter home in Muzaffarpur.

The apex court termed it “full contempt of court” because one of its earlier orders explicitly said that Sharma should not be transferred, and summoned Rao and the agency’s acting director of prosecution S Bhasuran on February 12. It has also asked the CBI director to identify officers who were involved in the transfer of Sharma from CBI.

AK Sharma and Nageswara Rao did not respond to phone calls and messages seeking comment.

“We are going to take it very, very seriously. You have played with the order of Supreme Court of India. God help you. Never play around with the Supreme Court’s order,” Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi told the CBI counsel who informed the court that two officials had approved the transfer of AK Sharma.

“We direct the CBI director to identify and tell us about the persons connected with the transfer of Sharma and all information be given to the court on 12th February. We will initiate contempt proceedings against these officers also,” said the three-member bench headed by CJI Gogoi, and comprising justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna.

Sharma, a joint director in the CBI, was the senior-most supervising officer in the horrific Bihar shelter home case and the court, in two orders dated October 31 and November 28, said he should not be transferred.

A bench led by the CJI also observed that “it appears from the records that the Cabinet committee on appointments (ACC) that approved the transfer of AK Sharma was not informed of the prevailing Supreme Court orders. Despite the court’s orders, AK Sharma’s tenure in CBI was curtailed and he has been appointed as additional director general in CRPF.”

“CBI should have taken the leave of the court before transferring the officer,” said the bench headed by the CJI.

The court also took objection to the affidavit on the transfer of AK Sharma being filed by Dhirender Singh, SP, CBI, Patna, when he informed the court that he was doing so under instruction from the additional director CBI, M Nageswara Rao.

Rebuking Singh, the CJI said, “Never file an affidavit on anyone’s order unless you are sure. Remember, law is the only master you serve and no other bureaucrat or person.”

The court also slammed the Bihar government over the incomplete information of the status of shelter homes in the state and transferred trial in Muzaffarpur shelter home rape case from Bihar to the Saket court in Delhi.

The court said the trial should be completed in six months and no extension of time should be sought.

“Enough is enough. Children cannot be treated like this. You cannot let your officers treat the children this way. Spare the children. Give us details of 110 shelter homes in the state. How many inmates are there? How is the state giving assistance and what are the number of male and female inmates,” CJI Gogoi asked.

Besides the Muzaffarpur shelter home case, CBI is also investigating 16 other cases of alleged abuse of children in shelter home being run in the state of Bihar.

A report by TISS had highlighted that dozens of girls lodged at a government funded-shelter home in Muzaffarpur were allegedly being sexually assaulted. Following the reports, the NGO was blacklisted and the girls were shifted to other shelter homes in Bihar. In December last year, the CBI filed a charge sheet against 21 persons including Brajesh Thakur, who was managing NGO Seva Sankalp Evam Vikash Samiti, in connection with the case.

First Published: Feb 07, 2019 23:36 IST