Coming down heavily on the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the Supreme Court on Thursday summoned the agency's former interim chief M Nageswara Rao and directed him to appear in person in the court on February 12 for transferring its former Joint Director A K Sharma, who was probing Bihar's shelter home cases, out of the agency in violation of the court's order
The apex court took serious note of transfer of former CBI Joint Director A K Sharma to CRPF on January 17 without its prior permission despite specific orders earlier that the probe into shelter homes cases, including the Muzaffarpur rape and sexual harassment matter, has to be supervised by him only.
"Why you (CBI) did not obtain leave of this court as per earlier orders. It is a fit case for contempt. Why should we bear with you. Enough is enough. Enough. ...we intend to deal with it (contempt)," said a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi.
The bench, also comprising Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, rapped the agency saying, "we are going to take it very very seriously. You have played with order of the Supreme Court. Only God help you. Never play with the Supreme Court's order".
Besides Rao, it also directed S Bhasuram, in-charge Director of Prosecution, CBI, to appear for allegedly violating the apex court' orders.
It directed CBI Director Rishi Kumar Shukla to give the names of the officers, who were part of the process in transferring Sharma out of the probe agency and sought their presence as well on the next date of hearing. The CBI officers will have to file their responses to the show cause notice on February 11.
Besides the Muzaffarpur case, the top court had directed CBI to probe 16 other cases in which rampant sexual and physical abuse of inmates was reported at shelter homes in Bihar.
At the outset, the bench took serious note of CBI's affidavit and asked as to how CBI Superintendent of Police (SP) Devender Singh filed it.
"How can a SP file the affidavit. Who authorised you and whose instruction you filed it...Never play around with the orders of the court. We will start contempt proceedings...
"Never file an affidavit without your personal satisfaction and on anyone's orders. The law is your only master... Not any politician, not a bureaucrat. Law is the only master, always keep this in mind," the bench told after the officer said that the affidavit was filed at the instruction of Nageswara Rao.
The bench, which had asked CBI to get ready with its response on transfer of Sharma in the forenoon, took up the matter at 2 PM and said that there were categorical orders of October 31, November 28 last year which had asked the CBI not to remove the officer from the team probing Bihar shelter home cases.
It said that these orders had also granted CBI the liberty to expand the probe team, but had made clear that the investigation would be headed by Sharma.
The bench, after perusing the affidavit of the CBI SP and the minutes of meeting of the Appointment Committee of Cabinet, said, "We see that they were apprised of the court orders and concerned authorities were asked to seek leave of the court. Where is that application seeking leave."
The CBI counsel, who said that presently the records were not with him, however submitted that there were "no defence" to the query on the aspect of sanction.
"Then we will initiate contempt proceedings," the bench said.
The CBI counsel said that the officers have done great job in investigating the shelter home cases but on the issue of transfer of the senior officer "I do not have defence."
Several girls were allegedly raped and sexually abused at an NGO-run shelter home in Muzaffarpur and the issue had come to light following a report by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS).