Sit in Corner for a Day: Rare Punishment for India’s Former Top Cop

(Bloomberg) -- A former chief of India’s federal investigative agency was in for a rare punishment for disobeying a court order: He was made to sit in the court room for an entire day.

M. Nageswar Rao, the former interim head of the Central Bureau of Investigation, and the agency’s legal adviser S. Bhasuram, were convicted by the Supreme Court for contempt. Their crime involved violating the court’s order by removing a senior investigator from a case related to sexual exploitation of girls at a shelter home in the eastern state of Bihar.

As punishment Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi fined them 100,000 rupees ($1,413) each and sentenced them to sit in court for a day.

“Go to one corner of the court and sit down till the rising of this court,” Gogoi ordered the former chief of the federal police.

The case had caught national headlines last year, putting pressure on Bihar’s Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, a political ally of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Rao’s position as the head of the apex investigation body was also a fallout of infighting between two top investigators.

The CBI -- India’s equivalent of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation -- examines high profile cases that include corruption and economic offenses.

Rao and the agency’s legal adviser had tendered an unconditional apology to the court for the decision to transfer the officer but the court rejected them.

Lower courts in India often ask convicts in petty offenses to remain inside court for a day or few hours but such a punishment meted out to a senior police official by India’s top court is rare.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.