The Supreme Court on Tuesday held M Nageshwar Rao guilty of contempt of court. Rao was sentenced to imprisonment till the rising of the court. This meant that Rao will have to sit in a corner of the court till the end of the day. He was also fined Rs 1 lakh, reported Livelaw website. The top court came down heavily on Rao for blatant violation of the Supreme Court order while transferring a key CBI officer investigating brutalities in Muzaffarpur shelter home.
The court also found Rao’s legal advisor guilty of contempt of court. Rao has to deposit the fine of Rs 1 lakh within a week.
Ahead of Tuesday’s hearing, Rao had submitted an unconditional apology, but the Supreme Court bench was still very angry as CJI Ranjan Gogoi observed, “This is brazen.” CJI Gogoi said that rarely had he invoked contempt power in the last 20 years.
Attorney General KK Venugopal came to Rao’s defence and told the court that ‘to err is human.’ The AG also referred to Rao’s clean career record while pleading for sympathetic view. He argued that the mistake was not deliberate.
CJI replied, “Even if we accept his apology, his career record will be blemished as he has acted in contempt by his own admission.” CJI Gogoi, according to Livelaw website, also asked the AG why a contemnor was being defended at the court’s expense.
Last week, a three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna had come down heavily on Rao, who was appointed as the interim chief of the CBI after the Centre’s Narendra Modi government removed Alok Verma from his post last month. Directing Rao to personally appear before it on 12 February, the Supreme Court bench, according to NDTV,had said, “God help you.’
The top court was unhappy with the transfer of former CBI Joint Director AK Sharma, who was probing the atrocities committed at a shelter home in Muzaffarpur. The court demanded to know the names of other officials, who were involved in processing Sharma’s transfer to the CRPF on 17 January without seeking the permission from the Supreme Court. Chief Justice Gogoi asked, “How can he be transferred by the Centre when the Supreme Court said he must not be shifted?”