The Delhi High Court today listed for hearing on January 24 a petition by former West Bengal Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay challenging the transfer of his application concerning the proceedings against him from Kolkata to New Delhi by the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT).
Justice Yogesh Khanna stated that a clarification was needed on whether the petition was to be heard by a two-judge bench or a single bench.
Senior Advocate Abhaya K. Behera, appearing for Bandyopadhyay, submitted that the petition ought to be listed before a Division Bench as it challenged an order passed by CAT.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, contended that the plea was rightly listed before Justice Khanna as it challenged an administrative order passed by the Chairperson of CAT.
"You need to have a clarification on that. I'm not issuing notice at this stage. Let it be clarified," the judge said.
Mehta sought liberty from the Court to file a short reply and alleged that the petitioner was "bench hunting".
Bandyopadhyay had moved the Kolkata Bench of CAT to challenge the proceedings initiated against him in a matter related to attending a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss the effects of cyclone Yaas' at the Kalaikunda Air Force Station on May 28 last year.
The proceedings were initiated by the Ministry of Personnel and Public Grievance and Pensions.
Bandyopadhyay, who was not released by the state government, chose to retire on May 31, 2021, his original date of superannuation before having been given an extension of three months from that date.
The Union government had filed a transfer petition before the principal bench of CAT, which on October 22 last year allowed the transfer of Bandyopadhyay's application to itself in New Delhi.
On January 6, the Supreme Court had set aside a Calcutta High Court's order which quashed the CAT transfer order and granted Bandyopadhyay the liberty to assail the same before the jurisdictional High Court. (read report)
The Apex Court had delivered its verdict on a plea filed by the Centre challenging the October 29, 2021 order of the Calcutta High Court.
In the present petition, Bandyopadhyay has said that the transfer order was passed in complete violation of the principles of natural justice, equity, and fair play as he was not even granted a right to file its written objections, and the Centre's plea was allowed on the very first day of its listing.
The petition has informed that the petitioner ordinarily and permanently resides in Kolkata and the entire cause of action occurred within the jurisdiction of the Kolkata Bench of CAT.
It has been claimed that the Centre sought transfer on the ground that the department is based in New Delhi but the 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 and the convenience of a retired officer ought to have been given precedence.
With PTI inputs