Tue, 06 Jun 2023

New Delhi [India], January 17 (ANI): The Delhi High Court on Monday said that it will continue hearing arguments on January 24 on the plea filed by the former West Bengal Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay against Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) Principal Bench order which transferred his application from CAT Kolkata bench to the Delhi branch.

On October 22, 2021, the Chairman of the Central Administrative Tribunal, Principal Bench at New Delhi transferred the application filed by the Petitioner before the Central Administrative Tribunal, Kolkata Bench to the Principal Bench in the national capital.

Justice Yogesh Khanna listed the matter for further hearing on Monday.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for the Centre said that the tribunal has an exclusive power to transfer the case from one bench to another. He also said that there is no prejudice.

Alapan Bandyopadhyay's counsel has submitted that the Impugned Order was passed in complete violation of the principles of natural justice, equity and fair play. The petitioner further submitted the Petitioner was not even granted a right to file its written objections to the Transfer Petition. "The Transfer Petition was allowed on the very first day of its listing.

Even otherwise, the Impugned Order is contrary to the settled principles laid down under Section 25 of the Act, " the petition said adding that that the Respondents had failed to make out any case for transfer of the Original Application from the Kolkata Bench to the Principal Bench at New Delhi.

Alapan Bandyopadhyay retired on May 31, 2021, from the post of Chief Secretary to the Government of West Bengal.

"The Petitioner ordinarily and permanently resides in Kolkata. Therefore, the Petitioner had an unqualified right under Rule 6(2) of the Central Administrative Tribunal (Procedure) Rules, 1987 to file the Original Application before the Kolkata Bench. Further, the entire cause of action in respect of the Original Application, as well as the underlying disciplinary proceedings against the Petitioner, occurred within the jurisdiction of the Kolkata Bench, " the Petitioner said.

There were absolutely no material and circumstances that warranted transfer of the Original Application to New Delhi. The respondents - Union of India has sought transfer on the ground that the department is based in New Delhi. However, the Impugned Order fails to appreciate that situs of the office of the Union of India or the convenience of the Union of India can never be a valid ground to transfer an original application.

On the contrary, the convenience of a retired officer ought to have been given precedence. Further, as set out in detail in Writ Petition, the Chairman of the Principal Bench exceeded the jurisdiction under Section 25 of the Act while dealing with the Transfer Petition by making an observation on the merits of the case which has absolutely no basis.

On May 31, Bandyopadhyay superannuated. Subsequently, an inquiry was initiated against him by the Centre for not attending a meeting chaired by the Prime Minister on May 28, 2021, for assessing the loss of life and property caused by the cyclonic storm YAAS.

After the inquiry order, Bandyopadhyay moved CAT's Kolkata Bench challenging it. Thereafter, the Centre moved the Principal Bench for the transfer of the case here and on October 22 order was passed allowing the transfer petition.

Bandyopadhyay then moved the High Court against CAT, New Delhi order. The High court on October 29, took strong objection to the manner in which the CAT Principal Bench favoured the Central government in transferring Bandyopadhyay's case to itself and quashed CAT's order. Thereafter, the Centre approached the apex court against the High Court order.

The apex court said that the Calcutta High Court did not have the jurisdiction to decide the plea of Bandyopadhyay.

It also granted liberty to Bandyopadhyay to approach the jurisdictional High Court (Delhi) to challenge the order of the CAT Principal Bench. (ANI)

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