Context:

Before he retired, former Chief Secretary of West Bengal Alapan Bandyopadhyay was served a show cause notice by the Union Home Ministry under the Disaster Management Act, 2005.

Relevance:

GS-III: Disaster Management (Government Policies & Interventions)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the recent notice served to the WB Chief Secretary
  2. Disaster Management Act, 2005
  3. What is Section 51 (b) of DM Act?

About the recent notice served to the WB Chief Secretary

  • Former Chief Secretary of West Bengal Alapan Bandyopadhyay was served a show cause notice under the section of DM Act which pertains to “punishment for obstruction” for refusal to comply with a direction given by the Central government.
  • The notice was served because he had refused a three-month extension sanctioned to him by the State and Central government.
  • The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) also shot off a letter asking him to comply with its order to report to the Central government’s office in Delhi.

What does the notice say?

The notice said that the officer, by abstaining himself from the review meeting taken by Prime Minister is in way like acting in a manner tantamount to refusing to comply with lawful directions of the Central Government and is thus violative of the Disaster Management Act, 2005.

Click Here to read more about the Central Deputation of WP Chief Secretary

Disaster Management Act, 2005

  • The Disaster Management Act, 2005, received the assent of The President of India in 2006.
  • The Act extends to the whole of India.
  • The Act provides for “the effective management of disasters and for matters connected there with or incidental thereto.”
  • The Act calls for the establishment of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).
  • The Act under Section 8 enjoins the Central Government to Constitute a National Executive Committee (NEC).
  • All State Governments are mandated under Section 14 of the act to establish a State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA).
  • The Chairperson of District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) will be the Collector or District Magistrate or Deputy Commissioner of the district.
  • The Section 44–45 of the Act provides for constituting a National Disaster Response Force “for the purpose of specialist response to a threatening disaster situation or disaster” under a Director General to be appointed by the Central Government.

What is Section 51 (b) of DM Act?

  • The section prescribes “punishment for obstruction” for refusal 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 the Act.
  • It says that violation shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term that may extend to one year or with a fine or both upon conviction. It adds that if “such 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.”

Section 51 of the DM Act has two important caveats

Under the Act, the action on the part of the person has to be

  1. ‘Without reasonable cause’ and
  2. ‘Failure of an officer to perform the duty without due permission or lawful excuse.’

If the Chief Secretary had ‘reasonable cause’ and ‘lawful excuse’ for not attending the meeting then he can highlight them in his reply.

-Source: The Hindu

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