On February 7, a Supreme Court Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi had criticised heavily the transfer of the officer in charge of the CBI investigation into the Bihar shelter home abuse cases. The officer, CBI’s former Joint Director A K Sharma, was transferred as ADGP, CRPF on January 17 without the court’s permission. The Bench had issued a contempt notice to M Nageswara Rao, who was the then interim Director of CBI and directed him to appear in person on February 12.
“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 had told the counsel for CBI.
On October 31, 2018, the Supreme Court had “stated and clarified” that A K Sharma “will continue to be the seniormost officer as a part of the investigating team” in the case. A month later, on November 28, it had repeated its directions: “We also make it clear that the officers of the CBI who will be looking into these allegations and conducting investigations will not be transferred without the leave of this Court… We grant permission to the Director, In-charge of the CBI, to expand the team but 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…”
The court noted that on January 18, the day after Sharma was moved out, the CBI Additional Legal Adviser, S Bhasuran, had advised that “in view of the fact that (the transfer) is a beneficial order (for Sharma) there may not be any legal impediment to relieve the officer. We may bring this fact to the notice of the… court”. Rao had approved the note on the same day.
“From the aforesaid notesheet and the approval thereto, it does not appear that the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet was apprised of the orders of this Court, dated 31.10.2018 and 28.11.2018 before it took the decision to curtail the tenure of Mr A K Sharma in the CBI. Neither the approval of this court as suggested in the note, was taken nor could it have been taken, as, on 18.1.2019, when the note was signed and approved, the order of transfer had already been made and implemented. No prior leave of the Court was taken as stipulated in the order dated 28.11.2018,” the court said in its order on February 7. The court said that it was of the prima facie view that both Bhasuran and Rao “have committed contempt of Court”.