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 the Kolkata bench of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) to New Delhi.
The CAT chairperson has the administrative powers to transfer the case to another bench, the court said.
Bandyopadhyay is facing an inquiry for skipping a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 28 last year, in connection with Cyclone Yaas. The meeting was held amidst an already raging tussle between the West Bengal government and the Centre over Bandyopadhyay’s transfer out of the state.
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 major penalty chargesheet, and, in August, an Inquiry Authority was set up.
Bandyopadhyay 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 later set aside by the Calcutta
Bandyopadhyay had approached the Delhi High Court after, on January 6, the Supreme Court allowed the Centre’s appeal and 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 is a retired person and has been residing throughout in Kolkata and, thus, has the right to file an application before the CAT’s Kolkata Bench. He also said the alleged incident that gave rise to the charge sheet had occurred “wholly within the State of West Bengal” and he was all along an officer of the West Bengal Cadre.
On Monday, however, the Delhi HC’s division bench headed by Chief Justice D N Patel rejected Bandyopadhyay’s 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 and after notice to and hearing the parties…”