Delhi High Court junks Bengal ex-chief secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay’s plea

The Delhi High Court on Monday dismissed a petition by former West Bengal Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay challenging the transfer of a case against him from CAT’s Kolkata Bench to New Delhi. The Central Administrative Tribunal has the powers to transfer the case to another bench, the court said.

Bandyopadhyay is facing an inquiry for skipping a meeting chaired by PM Narendra Modi in May last year over Cyclone Yaas. The meeting was held amidst a raging tussle between the West Bengal government and the Centre over Bandyopadhyay’s transfer out of the state.

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On the day he retired (in May, 2021) Bandyopadhyay was served a show-cause notice under a stringent provision of the Disaster Management Act which entails imprisonment for up to two years. He was later also issued a penalty chargesheet, and, in August, an Inquiry Authority was set up. He challenged the orders before the CAT’s Kolkata bench but the Centre managed to transfer the case to the Principal Bench at New Delhi in October, 2021, only to be set aside by the Calcutta High Court.

Bandyopadhyay had approached the Delhi HC after the Supreme Court, on January 6, said the Calcutta HC lacked the territorial jurisdiction to entertain a challenge to an order passed by the CAT’s Principal Bench. He argued he has been residing throughout in Kolkata and, thus, has the right to file an application before the CAT’s Kolkata Bench.

On Monday, however, the Delhi HC’s division bench headed by Chief Justice D N Patel rejected his argument saying although a person can approach the CAT bench at a place of his residence, the tribunal chair has the administrative powers to transfer the matter “albeit for sound reasons…”

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