Remarks made by Calcutta High Court were Unwarranted, Uncalled for and avoidable being sharp reaction on unfounded assumptions CAT In Alapan Bandyopadhyay Case: SC

The Supreme Court in the case of Union of India v/s Alapan Bandyopadhyay ruled that remarks made by Calcutta High Court were Unwarranted, Uncalled for and avoidable being sharp reaction on unfounded assumptions Against CAT.
The Appellant, Union of India assailed the final judgment and order passed by the High Court at Calcutta whereby the High Court set aside the order passed by the Central Administrative Tribunal, New Delhi of transferring application, filed by the respondent herein, from Kolkata Bench to its files at the Principal Bench (New Delhi). The order was passed by the Chairman of the Tribunal in exercise of the power under Section 25 of the Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985.

The respondent Alapan Bandyopadhyay, who was the then Chief Secretary of the State of West Bengal filed an application before the Kolkata Bench of the Central Administrative Tribunal challenging the disciplinary proceedings initiated against him alleging failure to attend a review meeting chaired by the Hon’ble the Prime Minister of India for assessing the loss of life, damage to property and infrastructure caused by the cyclonic storm ‘YAAS’. He was charged thereunder for failure to maintain absolute integrity and devotion to duty and for exhibiting conduct unbecoming of a public servant.

The issue raised in the court was whether the bundle of facts that constitute the cause of action for filing an Original Application under Section 19 of the Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985 and determinative of the place of its filing would remain as the decisive factor in case such an application is subsequently transferred from the Bench where it was filed to another Bench of the Tribunal falling under the territorial jurisdiction of another High Court, to ascertain the jurisdictional High Court to exercise the power of judicial review qua the order of transfer passed by the Chairman of the Central Administrative Tribunal at New Delhi in exercise of power under Section 25 of the Act.

The Solicitor General, Tushar Mehta for the appellant contended that a challenge against the order passed by the Central Administrative Tribunal, Principal Bench at New Delhi, was maintainable only before the High Court of Delhi as the Principal Bench of the Tribunal lies within its territorial jurisdiction.

He also referred to Section 5(7) of the Act which provides that subject to the other provisions of the Act, Benches of the Central Administrative Tribunal shall ordinarily sit at New Delhi (which shall be known as the Principal Bench), Allahabad, Kolkata, Madras, New Bombay and at such other places as the Central Government may, by notification, specify, to support the contention that High Court at Calcutta did not have jurisdiction to exercise judicial review of the orders.
Furthermore the appellant also got a grievance that the High Court made some harsh or disparaging remarks in theimpugned judgment against the Chairman of the Tribunal.

The division bench of Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice C.T. Ravikumar on carefully scanning the circumstances and situations noted that no exceptional ground(s) exists in the case on hand to make scathing and disparaging remarks and observations against the Principal Bench of the Tribunal. At the same time, the said order was, in fact, passed by the Chairman of the Tribunal on a formal application moved by the appellants and after hearing both parties. As a matter of law the Chairman could pass an order of transfer under Section 25 of the Act suo motu. Therefore, the said observations and remarks, in troth, ought not to have been made against the Chairman of the Tribunal.

Observing the sobriety, the court said that the remarks made by the High Court were unwarranted, uncalled for and avoidable being a sharp reaction on unfounded assumptions.

While setting aside the judgment and order the Court held that the impugned judgment and final order passed by the High Court at Calcutta is to be held as one passed without jurisdiction and hence, it is ab initio void.

Click Here To Read Original Order / Judgement

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