Muzaffarpur shelter home probe: God help you, CJI to CBI’s Nageshwar Rao

The bench also transferred the trial in the case from Patna to Delhi and asked the designated court in Saket trying cases under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, to complete the trial in six months.

Coming down heavily on former interim CBI chief M Nageshwar Rao for transferring the agency officer heading the Muzaffarpur shelter home probe despite its orders barring this, the Supreme Court Thursday ordered Rao to personally appear before it on February 12.

A bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna also said Rao and the agency’s in-charge Director of Prosecution, S Bhasuran, who gave the “opinion” on transferring Joint Director A K Sharma, “have committed contempt of court”.

The bench also transferred the trial in the case from Patna to Delhi and asked the designated court in Saket trying cases under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, to complete the trial in six months.

Pulling up the Bihar government, the bench said: “You can’t let your officers treat these unfortunate children the way they have treated.”

Earlier, when informed by advocate Aparna Bhat, the amicus curiae in the shelter home case, that Sharma had been shifted out of the probe team despite its orders to the contrary, CJI Gogoi sought an affidavit on this from the “competent authority” by 2 pm. Taking up the case post-lunch, the bench went through the affidavit and told the CBI counsel, “We are taking this very very seriously. You are playing with the order of the Supreme Court. God help you…Never, never play with the order of the court.”

The bench then asked who had filed the affidavit and a CBI SP present during the proceedings in the courtroom said he had filed it. The CJI then asked the officer on whose direction he had filed it, to which the officer said that he filed it on Rao’s instruction.

The Court expressed its disapproval of this and said the officer was not the competent authority to file the affidavit as required. Turning to the CBI officer who filed the document, CJI Gogoi remarked “never ever file an affidavit which is not in your personal satisfaction. Law is the only master you serve…”

The Court had referred to its orders dated October 31 and November 28, 2018, when it had directed that Sharma would remain in charge of the investigation. The November 28 order also said that no official associated with the probe should be transferred without the leave of the Court, the bench pointed out, and said its leave was, however, not taken before Sharma was transferred to the CRPF as Additional Director on January 19.

The bench also noted that “it does not appear” that the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet was appraised of its orders barring the shifting of the officers associated with the probe. The apex court asked the current CBI Director to examine which other officers in the agency were associated with the transfer and inform the Court about the same by February 11.

Ignoring protests from the Bihar government, the Court had last year transferred the investigation into allegations of sexual abuse of children in 17 shelter homes in the state to the CBI. On Thursday, the agency in a status report told the Court, which is monitoring the matter, that a chargesheet had been filed against 17 accused.

Source: The Indian Express

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