Alapan Bandyopadhyay moves CAT challenging probe against him

In a significant development, former West Bengal chief secretary and presently chief advisor to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Alapan Bandyopadhyay moved CAT (Central Administrative Tribunal) against the Centre’s decision to initiate a probe against him.

The decision to move CAT came after the Centre had set up an inquiry committee to find out whether Bandyopadhyay had violated norms by “not attending a meeting of Prime Minister Narendra Modi” at Kalaikunda on May 28, sources said.

The one-member committee, sources said, asked Bandyopadhyay to appear before it in Delhi on October 18, but Bandyopadhyay moved CAT on the same day questioning the jurisdiction of the Government of India in initiating probe for ‘misconduct’ against him.

Though Bandyopadhyay was not available for comment, sources close to him said that in a federal structure, the Centre may advise the state government to conduct a disciplinary process against an IAS officer, but cannot probe against the officer directly.

“There are several judgments of the Supreme Court in this regard. We have cited those. This is a quasi-judicial process and we will wait to see the final order from the CAT,” the source said.

The controversy cropped up on May 28 this year when Bandyopadhyay skipped Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting who had come to Kalaikunda in East Midnapore to assess the destruction caused by clone Yaas. Bandyopadhyay, who was then the chief secretary of the state, 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. The Chief Minister entered the meeting, greeted the PM, handed over the reports and a Powerpoint presentation, and took the PM’s permission to leave, 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. These are all documented facts, and they were presented before the CAT,” said an official.

The incident became more political than bureaucratic protocol. The centre issued a showcause notice asking him to reply 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 services.

“In a reply to the show cause notice, Bandyopadhyay had said he had attended the meeting along with the Chief Minister but left 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 Bandyopadhyay was asked to come and join in Delhi on central deputation which he refused and took his superannuation. Immediately after his retirement, Mamata Banerjee appointed him as the chief adviser to the Chief Minister.