MHA serves show cause notice on former West Bengal CS Alapan Bandopadhyay under DM Act

MHA serves show cause notice on former West Bengal CS Alapan Bandopadhyay under DM Act

Hummingbird News Desk

KOLKATA, 1 JUNE: Hours before Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced his retirement on Monday, the Union Home Ministry has served a show-cause notice to former chief secretary of West Bengal Alapan Bandyopadhyay under Section 51 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, punishable by an imprisonment of up to two years or a fine or both.

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The section pertains to “punishment for obstruction” for refusal to comply with a direction given by the Central government.

A home ministry official said the officer has been asked to reply within three days to the notice.

Mr Bandyopadhyay, who was due to retire on 31 May, was given an extension of three months and days later asked to report at the Centre. However, Banerjee announced his retirement on Monday and appointed him as chief advisor to the state government.

According to Section 51 (b), whosoever refuses to comply with any direction given by or on behalf of the central government or the state government or the National Executive Committee or the State Executive Committee or the District Authority under this Act, shall on conviction be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with fine, or with both.

“And if such obstruction or refusal to comply with directions results in loss of lives or imminent danger thereof, shall on conviction be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years…,” the Act says.

The notice said that the officer, by abstaining himself from the review meeting taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at cyclone-affected Kalaikunda in West Bengal on 28 May, “has acted in a manner tantamount to refusing to comply with lawful directions of the Central Government and is thus violative of Section 51 (b) of the Disaster Management Act, 2005.”

The notice stated that after the Prime Minister arrived at Kalaikunda for a scheduled review meeting with the Chief Minister and Chief Secretary of West Bengal, the “Prime Minister and other members of his entourage waited for nearly 15 minutes for the officers of the State Government to arrive.”

“In view of the absence, the Chief Secretary was called by an official as to whether they wanted to participate in the review meeting or not. Thereafter, the Chief Secretary arrived, along with the Chief Minister, inside the meeting room and left thereafter immediately,” the notice said.

Earlier, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) had asked him to report to the central government in Delhi by Monday.

The Centre’s action had come after Bandyopadhyay, along with the chief minister, did not stay for a meeting held by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Cyclone Yaas’ impact.

However, he did not come to the capital and chose to retire, instead of accepting a three-month extension sanctioned to him by the state and central government.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had alleged that the officer was targeted by the central government due to a “political vendetta”.

The DM Act, 2005, first came into existence after the 2004 tsunami, when thousands were killed. It was invoked for the first time in the country in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic last year. On March 24, 2020, the Centre, through the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) headed by the Prime Minister, invoked the provisions of the Act to streamline the management of the pandemic, empowering District Magistrates to take decisions and centralise other decisions on supply of oxygen and movement of vehicles.

The Union Home Secretary is the chairman of the national executive committee under the NDMA. The Act is still in place and has been extended across the country till June 30.

Though the DoPT is the cadre-controlling authority of Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers, the show cause notice was served under provisions of the DM Act, which is under the purview of the Home Ministry.

The notice said that since the Prime Minister is head of the NDMA and had gone to West Bengal to review Cyclone Yaas, the officer’s act of “abstaining himself” from the meeting amounted to violation of the Act.

Tags: #DMAct #homeaffairs #WestBengal #AlapanBandopadhyay #MamataBanarjee #CycloneYaas

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