Bengal chief secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay on Monday opted for superannuation instead of reporting to Delhi’s North Block as directed by central government order. His decision was followed by an announcement from Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee appointing him as the "chief advisor to the CM" for a period of three years.
The Union ministry of personnel issued Bandyopadhyay a show-cause notice on Monday for not reporting to the department of personnel and training (DoPT) in Delhi’s North Block. According to sources in the Centre, a chargesheet may be issued against the retired chief secretary followed by disciplinary action. The show-cause notice is said to have asked why disciplinary proceedings should not be initiated against him for having defied the Centre's directions in alleged violation of service rules.
Other grounds for the likely disciplinary action will include Bandyopadhyay's failure to attend PM Modi’s review meeting on the damage to West Bengal due to Cyclone Yaas despite being on the same premises where the meeting was scheduled. Government sources in Delhi said the chief secretary was scheduled to give a presentation but left the meeting venue along with CM Banerjee without citing any reason.
The sources said Bandyopadhyay was summoned to Delhi on central deputation for the same lapse, as skipping the PM's meeting was seen as a violation of service rules.
Bandyopadhyay can face disciplinary action
Sources indicated that Bandyopadhyay could always explain why he failed to report to New Delhi at the appointed hour on Monday by citing the Bengal government's refusal to let him travel to Delhi. “This would be a completely valid and acceptable explanation,” former secretary, personnel, S K Sarkar said. He added that since the Bengal government was Bandyopadhyay's cadre controlling agency, its approval was mandatory for him to travel to New Delhi to report to the DoPT. Central government sources indicated that disciplinary proceedings may still be initiated against the retired chief secretary and a chargesheet served to him, and that he might find himself to be on a weaker wicket so far as his failure to attend the PM's review meeting is concerned. The aggrieved officer can always escalate the matter to the Central Administrative Tribunal or the high court.
Disciplinary action will have to follow due process, including giving the officer a proper hearing and, if cleared, may involve a minor or major penalty. For an officer who has already retired, it may impact his post-retirement pension and other benefits.
A government functionary said, "The chief secretary's retirement shows that Mamata Banerjee is on the back foot. She knows that the facts of the matter are against the chief secretary and this is a last bid to save him. Banerjee has done a big U-turn in a matter of hours. From requesting the PM to confirm the extension of the chief secretary for three months to retiring him now. But this move doesn't change anything. Chargesheet will be issued and disciplinary action will be taken against Alapan Bandyopadhyay."