Alapan Bandyopadhyay, West Bengal's chief secretary who retired on May 31 and is now Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's special adviser, has received a central government letter warning him of "major penalty proceedings" for allegedly "not attending" a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to the state after Cyclone Yaas.
The IAS officer is to face proceedings under the service's Discipline Rules 1969 and the Retirement Benefits Rules 1958. That, say officials, means the Centre may withhold Mr Bandyopadhyay's pension and gratuity or both, either in full or in part.
The "memorandum" from the Department of Personnel & Training is dated June 16.
"Shri Alapan Bandyopadhyay, IAS (Retd) is informed that an inquiry will be held only in respect of the Article of Charge as is not admitted. He should, therefore, specifically admit or deny the Article of Charge," the letter by the Department of Personnel and Training read.
In May, the Central government recalled the officer to Delhi after he left the PM's meeting at Kalaikunda on 28 May along with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
However, the Bengal Chief Minister called the Centre's action "vendetta" and declined to release the officer as he was handling the Covid situation as well as the aftermath of the cyclone.
The Centre's deadline for the officer to report to the Department of Personnel & Training was May 31. That was also the date on which he was to retire. He declined the option of a three-month extension and chose to superannuate.
On the same day, he was appointed as the special adviser to Ms Banerjee.
The Centre later served a show-cause notice to the officer seeking an explanation for not attending the PM's meeting. In his response earlier this month, he said he had not abstained from the meeting and he had been there "till the Chief Minister was there".
He said that he had left the meeting, as directed by Ms Banerjee, to review the damage caused by the cyclone in Bengal's Digha town.
The government has directed Mr Bandyopadhyay to submit a written statement of his defence and also state whether he desires to be heard in person.
He has to do so within 30 days or the inquiring authority may hold the inquiry in person.