Alapan Bandyopadhyay, the former West Bengal Chief Secretary, has filed a petition with the Delhi High Court, contesting the judgement of the Central Administrative Tribunal’s (CAT) primary bench shifting his case from Kolkata to Delhi [Alapan Bandyopadhyay v Union of India and Anr].

The High Court was told that the order issued by the CAT’s principal bench was in complete violation of natural justice, equity, and fair play because he was not even given the opportunity to file written objections to the Centre’s transfer petition, which was approved on the first day of its listing.

According to the petition, the petitioner is a former Chief Secretary of the West Bengal Government who retired on May 31, 2021. The petitioner lives in Kolkata on a regular and permanent basis. As a result, the petitioner had an unqualified right to submit the Original Application before the Kolkata Bench under Rule 6(2) of the Central Administrative Tribunal (Procedure) Rules, 1987. Furthermore, the whole cause of action in respect of the Original Application, as well as the underlying disciplinary procedures against the Petitioner, took place within the jurisdiction of the Kolkata Bench.

The appeal comes after a Supreme Court decision earlier this month overturning a Calcutta High Court judgement that had rendered the CAT’s directions null and void.

The top court’s bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar and CT Ravikumar ruled that the Calcutta High Court lacked jurisdiction to hear Bandyopadhyay’s case.

Even after taking note of the fact that the Principal Bench of the Tribunal does not lie within its territorial jurisdiction,” the Supreme Court ruled, “the High Court at Calcutta has usurped jurisdiction to entertain the Writ Petition (by Bandyopadhyay) challenging the order passed by the Central Administrative Tribunal, New Delhi.

 In its judgement, the Supreme Court held that any decision of the CAT in Delhi, including those made under Section 25 of the Act, could be challenged “only before a Division Bench of a High Court whose jurisdiction the tribunal concerned falls.”

In May 2021, Bandyopadhyay was serving as Chief Secretary when the Centre decided to terminate his contract with the West Bengal government and summoned him to report to New Delhi, where he superannuated on May 31.

The Centre launched an investigation into him as a result. Bandyopadhyay then appealed the order to open the investigation to the CAT’s Kolkata bench. As a result, the Centre filed a transfer petition with the CAT’s primary bench.

On October 22, the principal bench passed an order allowing the transfer petition and directed the registry office to intimate the order to the Kolkata bench of the CAT.

Bandyopadhyay filed a complaint with the Calcutta High Court, alleging that the transfer order violated Rule 6(2) of the Central Administrative Tribunal (Procedure) Rules, 1987. On October 29, 2021, the Calcutta High Court issued a stinging decision criticising the CAT’s principle bench for allegedly favouring the Central government in its bid to move Bandyopadhyay’s case from Kolkata to New Delhi.

The High Court panel of Justices Sabyasachi Bhattacharyya and Rabindranath Samanta stated the Central government’s method of transferring the case to the CAT’s primary bench in New Delhi reeked of deception.

The High Court had observed that it was unfortunate that the principal bench encouraged such activities by approving the Centre’s transfer petition. The Centre had taken the matter to the Supreme Court, which ruled in its favour. The Supreme Court had, however, permitted Bandyopadhyay the right to submit a petition in the jurisdictional High Court, forcing the former Chief Secretary to file the current petition in the Delhi High Court.


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