‘This is not your jurisdiction,’ says SC in Calcutta HC, orders ex-chief of administration to appear in Delhi case

New Delhi: Former West Bengal Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay who had filed an appeal with the Central Administrative Court (CAT) contesting the disciplinary measures taken against him by the government of Narendra Modi last May – wHe will now have to appear before the main chamber of the tribunal in Delhi, instead of his chamber in Calcutta.

Indeed, the Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday overturned an order made by the High Court of Calcutta (HC) in October of last year, which had granted redress to Bandyopadhyay by quashing the order of the CAT which transferred its plea of Kolkata to New Delhi.

Bandyopadhyay approached the CAT last October, challenging the disciplinary measures taken against it by the central government in June. The Center claimed that Bandopadhyay did not attend a review meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May 2021 to assess the loss of life, damage to property and infrastructure caused by Cyclone “Yaas”.

The president of the CAT had, on October 22, transferred the application filed by Bandyopadhyay from the magistracy of Calcutta to his main magistracy in New Delhi. Bandyopadhaya then challenged the HC of Calcutta, which canceled the order of the CAT a few days later, claiming that it “shocks the judicial conscience”.

Reversing the HC order, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the HC did not have jurisdiction to overturn the CAT order. He explained that such an order made by the president was to be understood as an order adopted by the main bench of the New Delhi court and that, therefore, it was the Delhi High Court that had jurisdiction in this case.

However, the bench, made up of judges AM Khanwilkar and CT Ravikumar, granted Bandyopadhyay the freedom to challenge the CAT transfer order to the Delhi HC.

The court also ordered that the “scathing and derogatory” remarks made by the Calcutta HC against the court be removed.

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Caught in a brawl in West Central Bengal

Bandyopadhyay joined the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) in 1987 and worked with the West Bengal government until his retirement on May 31, 2021. He however found himself embroiled in a feud in West Bengal the same month. .

On May 28 last year, Bandyopadhyay, along with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, was not present to receive Prime Minister Modi at Kalaikunda Air Base in West Midnapore. On the same day when the Prime Minister led a review meeting to assess the damage caused by Cyclone ‘Yaas’, Banerjee and Bandyopadhyay would have left after a brief discussion with the PM.

Within hours, the Personnel and Training Department filed a lawsuit against Bandyopadhay, requiring him to report to the nation’s capital. However, Bandyopadhyay was unable to comply with this order as he was not released by the state government.

He then retired on May 31, immediately after which Banerjee appointed him senior adviser to his government. In the meantime, the Modi government has taken disciplinary action against him, serving him a sentence. charge sheet June 16.

According to the Supreme Court ruling, he was charged with “lack of integrity and absolute devotion to duty and showing conduct unbecoming of a public servant”.

What Calcutta HC Said

After being served with the indictment, Bandyopadhyay approached the CAT on October 8, questioning the competence of the central government to initiate disciplinary action against it. However, the CAT transferred its request to its main headquarters in Delhi on October 22.

The order was issued by the president of the court under section 25 of the Administrative Courts Act 1985, which allows the president to transfer cases from one bench to another. It was transmitted on request from the central government.

A few days later, on October 29, the Calcutta HC strongly opposed the CAT ordinance, adding that the Indian government’s modus operandi “reeked of bad faith”. He then canceled the order to transfer the judiciary from the CAT to Calcutta and asked it to settle the case as soon as possible.

Unjustified remarks from SC: SC

However, the Supreme Court has now overturned the Calcutta HC order.

“Needless to say, the power of judicial review of an order transferring an original application pending before one chamber of the court to another chamber under Article 25 of the Law can only be judicially reviewed by a division chamber of the high court in the territorial jurisdiction of which the bench passing the same, falls ”, declared the court.

The Center also objected to the “harsh or derogatory remarks” made by the HC when it overturned the CAT order, demanding their delisting.

In response, the Supreme Court ordered that these remarks be removed from the High Court order. “To observe sobriety, we say that the remarks made by the High Court were unwarranted, unwarranted and avoidable being a backlash on unfounded assumptions. Ergo, we have no hesitation in considering them to be completely unnecessary for the purpose of deciding whether or not the transfer order is correct, ”he observed.

(Edited by Gitanjali Das)

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