Kolkata, June 1 (PTI) Claiming that the Centre was wreaking vengeance on the West Bengal government, the TMC on Tuesday claimed that the show-cause notice sent to the state's just-retired chief secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay was an 'illegal' move on the part of the Centre.
TMC Rajya Sabha MP Sukhendu Sekhar Roy contended that the notice, invoking section 51 (b) of the Disaster Management Act, was 'void', and said that the question of violation of any provision does not arise.
'Show Cause Notice served upon former Chief Secretary of Bengal is void ab initio in as much as no direction was issued to him under Sec 51(a) or(b) of the Disaster Mangement Act . As such the question of violation thereof does not arise. Stop such blatant act of vengeance,' he tweeted.
The Union Home Ministry has served a show-cause notice to Bandyopadhyay under a stringent provision of the Disaster Management Act that entails imprisonment up to two years, amid a tug-of-war between the Centre and the Mamata Banerjee government over him.
A home ministry official said that hours before Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced his retirement on Monday, Bandyopadhyay was served the notice for refusing to comply with lawful direction of the Centre in violation of Section 51-B of the Disaster Management Act, 2005.
Roy, while talking to reporters here, further said, 'The notice is illegal. The Disaster Management Act cannot be invoked against the chief secretary in this manner.' Opposition leader in the Bengal assembly, BJP's Suvendu Adhikari, however, sought strictest action against Bandopadhyay for 'indiscipline and violation of rules'.
'I demand strictest action be taken against the outgoing CS for indiscipline, violating service rules at a time of a natural disaster and a global pandemic, irregularities, and not helping others just because of sinister political games. TMC has failed the people of West Bengal,' the BJP leader tweeted.
He alleged that Banerjee has brought disrepute to the CM office by appointing Bandopadhyay as her chief adviser.
'For the sake of her own ego, to destroy Indias federal structure and protect the Chief Secretary for his indiscipline, (non-MLA) CM @MamataOfficial Didi is bringing disrepute to the CM office and the Constitution of India.
'Looting tax payer money is TMCs favourite hobby.
Outgoing CS and now 'advisor' to (non-MLA) CM @MamataOfficial will enjoy a comfortable salary of Rs. 2.5 lakhs per month and cushy perks. Surely, there are better ways to spend the hard- earned money of the taxpayers,' Adhikari, who defeated Banerjee in the recently held assembly polls, wrote.
Senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha MP Pradip Bhattacharya, on his part, said the chief secretary is a victim of circumstances in the midst of the tussle between the Centre and the state government.
Different interpretations can be made out of the episode that preceded Bandopadhyays recall order, his subsequent retirement, and everything that followed, he said.
The Centre had issued an order to recall the bureaucrat from the state, shortly after a row broke out over a post-cyclone review meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the chief minister.
The CM, accompanied by Bandopadhyay, had skipped the meeting, which was called to assess the damage caused by Cyclone 'Yaas'.
'Alapan Bandopadhyay is a victim of circumstances, this is not desirable. It may apparently seem that more importance should be given to the prime minister than the chief minister, but since the chief secretary is responsible for the affairs of the state, it does not seem that he has done anything wrong by toeing the chief minister's line,' Bhattacharya said.
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. PTI SUS RMS RMS