Centre to hold 'major penalty proceedings' against Alapan
The Narendra Modi government has launched its third round of assault on former Bengal chief secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay.
The Centre has decided to hold “major penalty proceedings” against Bandopadhyay, now an adviser to chief minister Mamata Banerjee, for skipping the Prime Minister’s review meeting at Kalaikunda on May 28.
“Shri Alapan Bandyopadhyay, IAS (Retd.) (WB: 1987) is hereby informed that the central government proposes to hold Major Penalty Proceedings against him under Rule 8 of the All India Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules, 1969,” reads a memorandum, dated June 16, sent by the Centre to Bandyopadhyay.
Major penalty proceedings against an all-India service officer are drawn if a preliminary inquiry establishes beyond doubt that an act by the officer constituted a major breach of service rules, an official said.
Senior IAS officers said the charges mentioned in the memorandum appeared to be serious and could rob Bandyopadhyay of retirement benefits like pension. “The tragedy here is there hasn’t been any proper inquiry.… It’s just a one-sided vilification of a senior officer as the Centre can’t do anything to the chief minister,” an officer said.
The memorandum, sent by the department of personnel and training, asks Bandyopadhyay to submit a written statement defending himself within 30 days. If he so desires, he will be heard in person.
The Centre has informed Bandyopadhyay that he should specifically deny or admit the charges levelled against him.
Bandyopadhyay has been under attack since he and the chief minister skipped the review meeting at Kalaikunda that Modi had convened on May 28 to assess the extent of devastation in Bengal caused by Cyclone Yaas.
From Kalaikunda, Bandyopadhyay and Mamata had travelled to Digha to assess the situation there and hold a meeting as East Midnapore was one of the worst-affected districts.
First, in an unprecedented order on May 28 evening, Bandyopadhyay was asked to report to the DoPT in Delhi for a three-month period although the Centre had earlier cleared a state government proposal for a three-month extension to the officer as chief secretary in view of the pandemic.
Then came the second blow -- after Bandyopadhyay decided against taking the extension and retired from service -- in the form of a letter asking him to explain in writing why action should not be taken against him for violating the Disaster Management Act, 2005, by skipping the Prime Minister’s review meeting.
“The DoPT memorandum indicates that the Centre failed to make much headway with its plan of using the DM Act to penalise Bandyopadhyay.… So, it used the third option, threatening to hold major penalty proceedings against him,” a source said.
Bandyopadhyay could not be reached for comment. Sources in Nabanna said a detailed reply would be sent to the DoPT soon.
The DoPT memorandum has left senior government officials at Nabanna shocked, with several of them saying it had exposed Delhi’s desperation to take revenge on an officer for following a chief minister’s instructions.
“He has already explained in writing why he had to leave the meeting with the chief minister after taking permission from the Prime Minister that day.... But the Centre appears to be in the mood to take revenge on him,” a senior official said.