The Supreme Court came down heavily on CBI Joint Director M. NageswaraRao and prosecution in-charge S. Bhasuran for transferring an agency officer probing the Muzaffarpur shelter home case despite the court's embargo against the transfer of then Additional Director A.K. Sharma who was heading the investigation team.
In a sudden turn of events, the apex court initiated contempt proceedings against the two officials for processing a file relating to the transfer of then Additional Director A.K. Sharma of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) who was heading the Muzaffarpur horror case.
A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Deepak Misra and Justice Sanjiv Khanna slammed both officials for transferring Sharma without obtaining prior nod of the court or informing the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) about October 31 and November 28, 2018 orders of the court that had said that A.K. Sharma would continue to be the “senior-most officer as a part of the investigating team…”
Similarly, by November 28, 2018 order by which the CBI was allowed to expand the investigating team as it took upon itself the responsibility of probing other cases of “grave concern”, the court had clarified that “we make it absolutely clear that Mr. A.K. Sharma, Additional Director, in-charge of the investigations, will continue to remain the in-charge of the investigations and the expanded team including the new members will report to him directly”.
Taking a “very very serious view” of the transfer, the bench sought their response by Monday and their personal presence in the court on Tuesday.
The court also sought the presence of all CBI officials who dealt with the file relating to the transfer of Sharma from the CBI to the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) as its Additional Director.
Describing it as a “fit case of contempt”, the CJI said: “We will get to the bottom of the matter… We are going to take it very very seriously. You have played with the orders of this court. God help you.”
As CBI Superintendent of Police D. Singh, who is posted at Patna, told the court that he had filed the affidavit on the transfer of Sharma on instructions from NageswaraRao, CJI Gogoi asked: “How this SP is competent to file this affidavit?”
“This is happening. This is a reality. We intend to deal with it,” he said also telling D. Singh, who was present in the court, “Never ever file an affidavit without satisfaction.”
“Law is the only master you serve, not any bureaucrat, not any politician. Keep that in mind,” CJI Gogoi told the CBI official.
The Supreme Court on Thursday also transferred the trial in the Muzaffarpur shelter home case to Delhi directing the trial court judge to hold day-to-day hearings and wrap it up in six months.
Transferring the case, Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said, “No one can go unpunished but that is not the end of it.”
A bench of CJI Gogoi, Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice SanjivKhanna transferred the trial to Delhi even as the CBI lawyer told the court that the case had already been shifted from Muzaffarpur to Patna.
The court was told that the charge sheet in the case was filed in December 2018 and there are 21 witnesses in the case.
In the beginning, the hearing saw CJI Gogoi asking the lawyer appearing for the Bihar government to give the details of the number of inmates and staff in the shelter homes in the state, the money spent on their management and so on.
When the lawyer was not able to respond to queries, the CJI said, “We want the presence of a person who is conversant with the matter. You are running the government. How you are running the government in accordance with law. We want all the answers.”
Giving the lawyer time till 2 p.m. to come with answers to the posers from the bench, the CJI threatened to summon the Bihar Chief Secretary to answer the questions. CJI Gogoi made it clear that the court may not limit itself to the answers to the question raised by it but it may expand them.
The court also took exception to the transfer of head of the investigating team probing the shelter home cases asking if the authorities concerned were aware of the Supreme Court order on not shifting him without its permission. For this too, the court posted the matter to 2 p.m.
Several girls and inmates were allegedly found raped and sexually abused in the Muzaffarpur shelter home in a study conducted by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in May last year. (IANS)