New Delhi: The Union Home Ministry has served a show-cause notice to former chief secretary of West Bengal Alapan 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 central government in violation of Section 51-B of the Disaster Management Act, 2005.
The officer has been asked to reply within three days to the notice, the official said.
Bandyopadhyay, who was due to retire on May 31, 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 retired IAS officer has been asked to explain in writing to the home ministry within three days why action should be taken against him under the provisions of the Act.
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 Banerjee had alleged that the officer was targeted by the central government due to a "political vendetta".
The Union Home Secretary is the chairman of the national executive committee under the DM Act which is currently in force due to the COVID pandemic.
The COVID-19 lockdown measures have been implemented under the Disaster Management Act.