West Bengal govt challenges Calcutta High Court order allowing CBI probe for school staff recruitment case

  • Gargi Chatterjee
  • 11:35 AM, 24 Nov 2021

The West Bengal government along with West Bengal Board of Secondary Education (WBBSE) and West Bengal Central School Service Commission (WBSSC) have moved a Division Bench of the Calcutta High Court against a Single Bench order allowing the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to conduct a preliminary inquiry into alleged irregularities in the appointment of Group ‘D’ employees in schools run by the state.

In a strongly worded order on Monday, Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay had noted that “corruption is writ large” in the entire process.

The Bureau has been ordered to constitute a Committee, headed by an officer not below the rank of a Joint Director, with officers not below the rank of DIG to initiate the enquiry.

They are also to investigate into any money trail in issuance of such recommendation letters and subsequent issuance of appointment letters to the persons. The preliminary report is to be filed on December 21.

The Court had further noted that the CBI is being handed over the investigation since both the authorities involved in the turmoil i.e. the WBBSE, as also the police authority are controlled by the State.

“This is a matter of Education Department which is a State department and in such matters to instil confidence in the public as to the fairness in the appointment in posts for which money from the public exchequer would be spent there should be one enquiry by an impartial agency,” the Court noted.

In 2016, the State government had recommended the appointment of about 13,000 non-teaching staff in different government aided schools and accordingly the WBSSC had conducted examinations and interviews periodically and thereafter a panel had been constituted.

The term of the panel had ended in 2019. However, subsequently, there were widespread allegations that the Commission had made several irregular recruitments close to almost 500 even after the expiry of the panel.

The Court surprised to learn that over 500 similar illegal appointments may have been made by the WBBSE. The state’s School Service Commission submitted before the Court that the body had not recommended the appointments. However, the Board alleged that they have made the appointments on recommendation of the commission. Further that they have made 25000 appointment since 2018, all in the same manner.

To this, Justice Gangopadhyay noted that:

“The recommendations came from the Commission, be it West Bengal Central School Service Commission or West Bengal Regional School Service Commission, and accordingly the Board issued the appointment letters.”

However, the Comission has denied making any such recommendation, the Court asked “which is that invisible hand who prepared and sent the recommendation letters” to the Board’s office.

Justice Gangopadhyay on Monday turned down the WBSSC’s suggestion for an inquiry by a retired judge or a panel of three retired judges of the Calcutta high court, and ordered an initial probe by CBI.

Cause Title: Sandeep Prasadv vs State of W.B.