Calcutta HC rejects WB Govt’s plea against CBI probe in Municipality Recruitment Scam

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Justice Gangopadhyay had directed the transfer of the investigation to the CBI on an application filed by the Enforcement Directorate.

The Calcutta High Court recently dismissed the review petition filed by the West Bengal government against the order transferring the probe into West Bengal Municipality Recruitment Scam to CBI.

The single judge bench of Justice Amrita Sinha observed that it did not appear that the order sought to be reviewed had caused or would cause any harm to the Department of Urban Development and Municipal Affairs.

On the contrary, the Court is of the opinion that the State including its departments, ought to cooperate with the investigating agencies and ensure that the investigation that is continuing reaches a logical conclusion at the earliest so that the offenders can be booked and appropriately dealt with in accordance with the law,” the judge said.

The review petition was filed by the government of West Bengal through the Secretary, Department of Urban Development and Municipal Affairs, seeking a review of Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay's order dated April 21, 2022.

Justice Gangopadhyay had directed the transfer of investigation of the probe to the CBI based on an application filed by the Enforcement Directorate. The ED had claimed that while investigating the scam related to the teacher’s appointment, it came across the 'Municipality Recruitment Scam' in the state, which became intermingled due to common agents and common beneficiaries. Also, the victim in both cases was the same, i.e. "public/common people at large."

On April 28, the Supreme Court refused to stay the single bench order of the Calcutta High Court instructing the (CBI) Central Bureau of Investigation to examine the scam of municipal recruitment in the state of West Bengal.

The apex court stated that the status quo will be maintained in the ongoing CBI & ED investigations for a period of one week from the date of passing the order.

Furthermore, Supreme Court on the same day directed the Acting Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court to reassign the matter to another judge of the Calcutta High Court.

Later on, the matter was reassigned to Justice Amrita Sinha.

The present bench of Justice Sinha said that the court ought to ensure that the investigation is conducted diligently, with utmost importance and in a time-bound manner.

Handing over or permitting a separate agency to investigate subsequent offences detected in the course of an investigation will inevitably result in the delay of the process and in turn will aid the persons involved in the crime to remove/ destroy/ tamper evidence, influence witnesses and so on and so forth, Justice Sinha observed. 

The judge said, “The scam in the municipalities is not an independent offence but is a part of the larger offence involving more or less the same persons, similar nature of the crime, similar proceeds of crime, similar victims that is the common people who are the unemployed youth of the society.”

Accordingly, Justice Sinha dismissed the review petition.

Case Title: State of West Bengal Vs. Soumen Nandy & Ors.