Cal HC orders CBI SIT to probe teachers recruitment scam

Kolkata, Jun 15 (PTI) Calcutta High Court on Wednesday ordered forming of a CBI special investigation team under a joint director of its anti-corruption branch into alleged irregularities in the recruitment of teachers in West Bengal government-sponsored and aided primary schools and directed that its members cannot be transferred till the conclusion of the probe.

Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay directed that the members of the SIT will not be engaged in any other case other than the probe into the alleged irregularities in the primary teachers' recruitment and ordered CBI to submit the names of the team members to the court by Friday.

The court will monitor the probe, he said adding that he wished that persons who were denied jobs should get them and the kingpins should be arrested.

Expressing hope that CBI will record noticeable advancement in the investigation into the case, in which the appointment of 269 primary teachers were found to be illegal, Justice Gangopadhyay said that he is not happy with the progress of probes in other cases in which he had ordered the agency to investigate.

Justice Gangopadhyay had earlier ordered CBI investigation in at least eight cases of alleged illegalities in the appointment of teaching and non-teaching staff by the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education in government-sponsored and aided schools on the recommendations of West Bengal School Service Commission.

Expressing dissatisfaction over the progress of the probe in these cases, the judge had said on Tuesday that he had doubts whether it was the right move to burden the central agency with the investigation into so many matters and whether it would have been better to form an SIT to probe the cases, the first of which was in November 2021.

During an informal discussion with a senior advocate, who had appeared in his court for a hearing, Justice Gangopadhyay had wondered whether CBI has enough manpower to deal with so many probes ordered by him.

Justice Gangopadhyay spoke of his dissatisfaction again on Wednesday and said that though he had ordered the first CBI probe into the teacher recruitment issue, which was termed as a "public scam'' by a division bench of the HC that upheld his order, there has not been any effective progress

Assistant Solicitor General Billadwal Bhattacharya, who appeared for the CBI, assured the court that the investigating agency has taken up the probes in all earnestness and a joint director has been deputed to Kolkata who will be based in the city.

When the judge asked whether there is any shortage of staff in its Kolkata office, the CBI counsel said that it has been taken care of.

The CBI is taking the probe into the teacher recruitment irregularity very seriously and the coming weeks will be "very eventful", Bhattacharya said

Appearing before the court, former CBI additional director Upendranath Biswas, who had headed the probe into the Bihar fodder scam that led to the conviction of that state's former chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, suggested that a SIT be constituted to probe the irregularities in the recruitment of teachers in Bengal under the court's supervision.

Biswas, who was made a party respondent in the primary teacher recruitment case over a social media post by him, also suggested that the CBI be directed that the officers engaged in the probe be dedicated to the investigation into the case and that not be transferred till the submission of the final report.

A minister in the first Mamata Banerjee government from 2011 to 2016, Biswas had made references to a character called Ranjan who he claimed was part of alleged illegal transactions in the recruitments.

He stated before the judge that the real name of Ranjan is Chandan Mondal, against whom Justice Gangopadhyay has already ordered a CBI investigation to unearth his role and to trace kingpins in the primary teacher recruitment scam.