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Bengal ex-Chief Secy case: SC sets aside Calcutta HC order (Lead)

New Delhi, Jan 6 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Thursday set aside a Calcutta High Court verdict which stopped the transfer of disciplinary proceedings against former West Bengal Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay from West Bengal to New Delhi.

Bandyopadhyay came into the limelight when he did not attend a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Kolkata in the wake of Cyclone Yaas.

In a 37-page judgment, a bench of Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and C.T. Ravikumar, while allowing the Centre's appeal against the high court verdict, said: "In the instant case, the High Court at Calcutta has usurped jurisdiction to entertain the writ petition challenging the order passed by the Central Administrative Tribunal, New Delhi, even after taking note of the fact that the principal bench of the tribunal does not lie within its territorial jurisdiction."

The top court also expunged some "scathing and disparaging remarks" made against the principal bench of the tribunal.

"To observe sobriety, we say that the remarks made by the High Court were unwarranted, uncalled for and avoidable being sharp reaction on unfounded assumptions. Ergo, we have no hesitation to hold that they were wholly unnecessary for the purpose of deciding the correctness or otherwise of the order of transfer. Hence, they are liable to be expunged," it said.

The bench said the judgment passed by the high court is to be held as one passed without jurisdiction and hence, and accordingly, it is set aside, as it allowed the Centre's appeal against the high court order, which set aside transfer of case from Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) bench of Kolkata to Delhi.

It noted the high court made "undue haste" in the matter of disposal of the plea.

The top court also granted liberty to Bandyopadhyay to assail the tribunal's order before the jurisdictional high court.

Bandyopadhyay had moved the Kolkata bench of CAT challenging the disciplinary proceedings initiated, by the Ministry of Personnel and Public Grievance and Pensions, against him for not attending the meeting.

The Centre then moved a plea before CAT's principal bench at New Delhi seeking transfer of the matter from Kolkata Bench to the principal bench. The tribunal's chairman allowed Centre's plea and this order was challenged by Bandyopadhyay at the high court.

The top court said: "As a matter of law, the Chairman could pass an order of transfer under Section 25 of the Act suo motu. Hence, the said observations and remarks, in troth, ought not to have been made against the Chairman of the Tribunal."

The top court noted that the principal bench of the tribunal at New Delhi, falls within the territorial jurisdiction of the Delhi High Court.