In an unprecedented way, the Supreme Court came down heavily on M Nageswara Rao, the former interim director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in a case of transfer of agency’s officers despite an order of the court against it.
For the first time, in such high-profile cases, a Supreme Court Bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi held Rao and CBI’s Additional Legal Advisor S Bhasuran guilty of contempt of court and fined them Rs 1 lakh each. The two were sentenced till the rising of the court. “You both go and sit in one corner of the court till we rise,” Justice Gogoi told Rao and Bhasuran, giving them a week time to deposit the amount.
CJI Gogoi asked Attorney General KK Venugopal, who appeared for Rao, “would heavens have fallen” if the transfer order was not issued. Rao, earlier, apologised to the Supreme Court for issuing the order of transfer of CBI officer AK Sharma, who was investigating the Bihar shelter home case involving alleged abuse of minor girls.
Venugopal told the apex court that the former CBI interim chief did not “do it willfully and throws himself to the mercy of the court. Holding him guilty of contempt would result in his career being ruined.”
An angry CJI Gogoi said, “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.”