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Alapan Bandyopadhyay case: Supreme Court reserves judgment in Centre’s plea

File photo of former West Bengal Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay. | Photo Credit: The Hindu Businessline
Legal Correspondent NEW DELHI 29 November 2021 17:30 IST
Updated: 29 November 2021 17:32 IST

Union challenged Calcutta High Court order on ex-WB official’s disciplinary proceedings issue

The Supreme Court on Monday reserved its judgment in an appeal filed by the Union Government against a Calcutta High Court order which stopped the transfer of a case concerning disciplinary proceedings against former West Bengal Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay from West Bengal to the National Capital.

A Bench led by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar was assured by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, for the Centre, that no “precipitative action” would be taken against Mr. Bandyopadhyay before the court pronounces its judgment.

Mr. Bandyopadhyay came into the limelight when he did not attend a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Kolkata in the wake of Cyclone Yaas. He was issued a show cause notice under the Disaster Management Act. Mr. Bandyopadhyay however resigned from service but was subject to disciplinary proceedings initiated by the Centre. The retired civil servant had approached the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) in Kolkata against these proceedings, following which, the CAT’s Principal Bench in Delhi transferred the case to the Capital.

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Stinging remarks

The Calcutta High Court had intervened to set aside the transfer of the case, but not before making stinging remarks like the modus operandi of the Union Government “reeks of mala fides” and the CAT Principal Bench was “overzealous” to cater to the fiat of the Government and paid “obeisance to the diktat of the Union of India”.

The Union had appealed to the Supreme Court, challenging the jurisdiction of the Calcutta High Court to entertain Mr. Bandyopadhyay’s case when it was already transferred to Delhi. Moreover, the Union had taken strong objection to the remarks made in the Calcutta High Court order against it.

Mr. Mehta described the High Court order as “disturbing”.

“The Calcutta High Court has no jurisdiction over the order passed by the Principal Bench of the Central Administrative Tribunal at Delhi,” Mr. Mehta submitted.

The law officer said this would set a bad precedent for other disgruntled bureaucrats who would go on to file cases against the Union in far-off stations.

Senior advocate A.M. Singhvi, for Mr. Bandyopadhyay, said the Union is a “sarvavyapi” — it is “omniscient and omnipresent”. It has resources everywhere.

Mr. Bandyopadhyay was well within his rights to exercise his right of “forum convenience”.

“He filed his case in Kolkata, where the cause of action took place, where he was stationed... I did not go to Meghalaya or other far away places... How can they [Union Government] say ‘you have to come to Delhi because we are in Delhi’?”

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