Kolkata Oct 26 | The battle between the Centre and former West Bengal Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay took another turn after he moved the Calcutta High Court challenging the decision of the Central Administrative Tribunal’s (CAT) principal bench to transfer to itself the application he filed before the Calcutta bench on the Centre’s plea.
The case is likely to be heard by the court on Wednesday.
Bandyopadhyay, who is presently the Chief Advisor to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, moved the CAT against the Centre’s decision to initiate a probe against him to ascertain whether he had violated norms by “not attending a meeting of Prime Minister Narendra Modi” at Kalaikunda on May 280.
On a prayer by the Department of Personnel and Training for the transfer of the case from the Calcutta bench, the CAT’s principal bench in Delhi ordered that Bandopadhyay’s application will be heard by it.
His lawyers appearing before a division bench of the high court on Tuesday sought its intervention, claiming that the balance of convenience favours that the applicant, in this case a retired IAS officer based in the city, be heard at the regional bench here.
The controversy cropped up on May 28 this year when Bandyopadhyay skipped the meeting of Prime Minister Narendra Modi who had come to Kalaikunda in East Midnapore to assess the destruction caused by Cyclone Yaas.
Bandyopadhyay, who was then the Chief Secretary, had reached the Prime Minister’s meeting with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and then left along with her to visit Digha to attend a review meeting after the cyclone had hit three coastal districts.
“Alapan Bandyopadhyay has followed the explicit and specific directions of his immediate superior authority – the Chief Minister of the state. The Chief Minister entered the meeting, greeted the PM, handed over the reports and a Power point presentation, and took the PM’s permission to leave the meeting, as she was scheduled to attend another meeting. She also requested the PM to allow the Chief Secretary to leave the meeting. After the PM’s approval, the CM and the CS left the meeting. These are all documented facts, and they were presented before the CAT,” said an official.
The incident became more a political battle than a bureaucratic protocol. The Centre issued a showcause notice asking him to reply to why charges would not be framed against him for not attending a review meeting of the Prime Minister at Kalaikunda on May 28, which was considered as violation of the service rules of all India service officers.
“In a reply to the showcause, Bandyopadhyay had said he had attended the meeting along with the Chief Minister, but he had to leave the meeting with the CM after taking permission of the PM. But the Centre is clearly not happy with the reply,” said a source.
Bandyopadhyay, who was supposed to retire on May 31, was given an extension of one year by the Centre on the recommendations of the state government but after the incident, he was asked to report to Delhi for central deputation.
Bandyopadhyay refused to go for a central deputation and took his superannuation. Immediately after his retirement, Banerjee appointed him as her Chief Adviser.
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