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Centre ‘studying’ Bandopadyay reply, action in due course

In his reply, Bandyopadhyay told the Centre that he was scheduled to visit the cyclone-affected areas and was following Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's order.

Written by Deeptiman Tiwary | New Delhi |
Updated: June 4, 2021 10:22:39 pm
Alapan BandyopadhyayAlapan Bandyopadhyay (File photo)

The Ministry of Home Affairs is “studying” former West Bengal Chief Secretary Alapan Bandopadhyay’s reply to a show-cause notice and will decide on the action to be taken in due course, sources said Friday.

Bandopadhyay’s reply to the show-cause notice—issued by the Centre for reporting 15 minutes late to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s May 28 cyclone review meeting—was received by the Home Ministry on Thursday evening.

Bandyopadhyay has written to the Centre that he was scheduled to visit cyclone-affected areas and was following Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s orders.

The new West Bengal Chief Secretary, Hari Krishna Dwivedi, has also written to the Centre, explaining why Bandyopadhyay reached 15 minutes late and left immediately.

“The ministry is studying the reply. If needed, a legal opinion will also be sought. Accordingly, action will be initiated in due course,” an MHA official said.

Sources said the ministry has the option of taking either administrative action—somewhat difficult as Bandopadhyay has already retired—or statutory action, given that the former Chief Secretary has been accused of violating provisions of the Disaster Management Act.

Banerjee, accompanied by Bandyopadhyay, had skipped the meeting, but interacted with the Prime Minister for a few minutes and submitted two reports.

After the episode, Bandyopadhyay, a 1987-batch IAS officer, was recalled and asked to report in New Delhi on May 31.

The state government refused to release Bandyopadhyay. On May 31, he resigned from the services and, within hours, was made adviser to the Chief Minister.

According to sources, Bandyopadhyay has told the Centre that he and Chief Minister Banerjee left the meeting after taking Prime Minister Modi’s permission. He said he later visited cyclone-affected areas and attended an administrative meeting in Digha.

The notice was issued by the MHA under the Disaster Management Act on May 31 for reporting 15 minutes late and leaving the meeting immediately.

“By this act of abstaining himself from the review meeting taken by the Prime Minister, who is also the Chairman of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), in the aftermath of cyclone Yaas as part of his visit to cyclone affected areas in the State of West Bengal, Sri Alapan Bandyopadhyay, Chief Secretary, Government of West Bengal has acted in a manner tantamount to refusing to comply with lawful direction of the Central Government and is thus violative of section 51 (b) of the disaster management act, 2005,” the notice had read, giving Bandyopadhyay three days to reply. Thursday was the last day of sending the reply.

The letter further said: “Now therefore, Bandyopadhyay is hereby called upon to explain in writing to this Ministry within a period of three days, as to why action should not be taken against him under section 51 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 for the aforesaid violation…”

The notice under the Disaster Management Act and, if converted to a statutory case, could result in imprisonment extending up to two years.

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