SC holds Rao guilty of contempt

Former CBI interim Director and agency’s legal counsel fined and punished
The Supreme Court on Tuesday held the former interim Director of the CBI, M. Nageswara Rao, guilty of contempt for disobeying its order not to transfer Joint Director A.K. Sharma, who was probing the Bihar shelter home cases, from the investigating agency. A Bench, headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, termed his act “blatant” disobedience of the order and directed him and the agency’s legal adviser, S. Bhasuram, to sit in the courtroom for the remainder of the working hours. It also levied a fine of Rs. 1 lakh each on the officers. The Bench, comprising Justices L.N. Rao and Sanjiv Khanna, refused to accept the unconditional apology tendered by Mr. Rao, saying he was aware of the order. It said, “He was the interim Director. Would the heavens fall if the relieving letter [of Mr. Sharma] was issued a day later?” The Bench said it was unable to comprehend why Mr. Rao transferred Mr. Sharma as Additional Director-General of the CRPF on January 17 but did not communicate his decision to the court, despite being advised to submit an affidavit immediately. Attorney-General K.K. Venugopal, appearing for Mr. Rao, asked the court to take a sympathetic stand towards the officer, terming the incident abona fidemistake and an error of judgment. “Speaking for myself, the dignity of the court must be maintained, but this is blatant,” the CJI said. The Bench, while making it clear that both officers would be held guilty of contempt, asked them if they had anything to say before it pronounced its sentence, which could go up to to 30 days in jail.
Mr. Rao and Mr. Bhasuram urged the court to pardon them.
Mr. Venugopal urged the Bench to accept the unconditional apology and said, “To err is human, to forgive is divine.”

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