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Proceedings start against West Bengal officer caught in Mamata-Centre clash

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

Kolkata: The Centre has initiated major disciplinary proceedings against former West Bengal chief secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay, just three weeks after his retirement, which may withhold his retirement benefits, either fully or partially.

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After retiring from service last month as Bengal’s Chief Secretary, Mr Bandyopadhyay, a 1987-batch IAS officer of West Bengal cadre, was immediately appointed Chief Adviser by Mamata Banerjee, who had refused to release him after the Centre ordered his transfer.

On June 16, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), under the Ministry of Personnel, sent Bandyopadhyay a “memorandum” mentioning the charges and giving him 30 days to reply, ministry officials said Monday. He has been warned of major penalty proceedings, which allows the Centre to withhold pension or gratuity, or both, either in full or in part, they said.

The memorandum informs Bandyopadhyay that the Centre proposes to hold major penalty proceedings against him under Rule 8 of All-India Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules, 1969, read with Rule 6 of All-India Services (Death-cum-Retirement Benefits) Rules, 1958.

“The substance of the imputations of misconduct or misbehavior in respect of which the inquiry is proposed to be held is set out in the statement of Article of Charge,” the notice stated.

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Bandyopadhyay has been “directed to submit within 30 days…a written statement of his defence and also to state whether he desires to be heard in-person”. The memorandum also directs him to respond only to the Article of Charge as to whether he accepts or denies the charges against him.

During the last days of his service in late-May, Bandyopadhyay did not appear for a review meeting called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was visiting West Bengal to inspect the damage caused by Cyclone Yaas. The Union Home Ministry had subsequently slapped a show-cause notice on Bandyopadhyay under the Disaster Management Act, which entails imprisonment for up to two years, for abstaining from a meeting presided by the PM and other members of his entourage.

The notice said Bandyopadhyay “acted in a manner tantamount to refusing to comply with lawful directions of the central government”.

Bandyopadhyay had responded to the Home Ministry’s notice.

Service rules allow the Centre to order “recovery from pension or gratuity of the whole or part of any pecuniary loss caused to the central or a state government, if the pensioner is found in a departmental or judicial proceedings to have been guilty of grave misconduct or to have caused pecuniary loss to the central or a state government by misconduct or negligence, during his service, including service rendered on re-employment after retirement”.

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Officials, however, said in such cases it is not uncommon for a retired official to seek relief in Central Administrative Tribunal to restore his retirement benefits. “A lengthy legal tussle is expected,” an official said.

Reacting to the Centre’s move, TMC leader and MP Sougata Roy said in Kolkata, “This episode proves that the Central government and the BJP are inhuman. They always try to get the job done by showing fear.”

CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakraborty also opposed the Centre’s and said, “This rudeness of Delhi cannot be accepted. This is hundred percent wrong. We will oppose it.”

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