The Calcutta high court on Monday asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to conduct a preliminary inquiry into alleged irregularities in the appointment of 25 group ‘D’ employees in schools run by the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education (WBBSE).
The single bench of justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay, while hearing a petition filed by some unsuccessful applicants, said on Monday that a CBI officer of the rank of deputy inspector general and a state bureaucrat of the rank of joint secretary have to complete the preliminary probe and submit a report before the court by December 21 when the next hearing will take place.
The petitioners alleged that genuine applicants were deprived as ineligible people got jobs in state-run schools during the recruitment drive that started in 2016. They also alleged that the number of ineligible people recruited could be around 500 and many of them were inducted after the tenure of the panel expired.
In 2016, the state approved the appointment of around 13,000 group ‘D’ staff in phases in state-run schools, said lawyers aware of the details of the case. The West Bengal School Service Commission (WBSSC) interviewed the applicants and drew up a panel of prospective employees. The validity of this panel ended in May 2019.
The petitioners were heard twice last week. During the first hearing, justice Gangopadhyay pulled up the state government and warned that he would ask a Central armed police force to take control of the office of the WBSSC and tell the CBI to scrutinize all records.
During the second hearing on Thursday, the WBSSC told the court through an affidavit that the 50 recruitments under the scanner were illegal as it did not clear these people. The commission also sought an inquiry by a retired judge of the Calcutta high court, indirectly implying that ineligible people were recruited by the board of secondary education. The court asked the WBBSEE to file an affidavit on Monday, said lawyers representing the state.
Justice Gangopadhyay on Monday turned down the WBSSC’s suggestion to have an inquiry conducted by a retired judge.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wasted no time and accused the Trinamool Congress (TMC) government of indulging in widespread corruption and depriving jobless youths of the state.
“I appeal to all those who applied for jobs in different state departments to come forward and seek justice. This corruption is deep-rooted. Only the CBI can unearth it,” said BJP state president Sukanta Majumdar.
Bengal education minister Bratya Basu was in Tripura where TMC leaders, headed by the party’s national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee, had rushed to following the arrest of TMC youth wing president Saayoni Ghosh and attack on some party workers in the run-up to the November 25 civic body polls in which the party has challenged the ruling BJP.
“I do not have details of the high court order. Our government may decide to challenge it in a higher court,” Basu said in Agartala.
State officials in Kolkata refused to comment.
During the last hearing on November 18, justice Gangopadhyay directed the commission and the board to preserve all documents relating to the controversial appointments and stop payment of salaries to these recruits as long as the hearing is on. “Everybody who comes before this court claim they are honest and clean,” justice Gangopadhyay said on that day, slamming both the departments.
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