Published: 18th June 2022
SIT formed by CBI to probe secondary school recruitment scam, orders Calcutta HC
The Joint Director of the anti-corruption branch, N Venugopal, will head the SIT and supervise the investigation
The Calcutta High Court on Friday, June 17, directed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is probing the alleged illegal appointment of teachers in the West Bengal government-sponsored and aided primary schools, to also look into cases of irregularities in the recruitment of teaching and non-teaching staff in secondary schools.
The court had earlier ruled that the agency would enquire into the secondary school appointments, as stated in a report by PTI. The CBI submitted the names of six SIT members, who will be responsible for investigating the cases under the close supervision of its anti-corruption branch's superintendent of police and its joint director.
N Venugopal, who is the Joint Director of the anti-corruption branch, will head the SIT and supervise the whole investigation, as directed by Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay. An Additional Superintendent of Police (ASP) of the anti-corruption bureau, two deputy superintendents of police and three inspectors are also a part of the team.
On an objection to the induction of one of the DSP-rank officers by the petitioner's lawyer, Bikash Bhattacharya, the assistant solicitor general, representing the CBI, told Justice Gangopadhyay that he would discuss the matter with his opposite party and take a call on the issue, which will then be informed to the court.
Justice Gangopadhyay directed that based on the court's order, all the cases being probed by the CBI in connection with the irregularities in the recruitment of teaching and non-teaching staff in secondary schools will now be looked into by the SIT.
Starting November 2021, he has ordered a CBI probe into at least eight cases in connection with appointments of Group-C, Group D staff and teachers for Classes IX and X in government-sponsored and -aided schools by the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education on recommendations from the state's School Service Commission. He said that hundreds of illegal appointments had taken place.
On June 15, Justice Gangopadhyay ordered the formation of a SIT of the CBI led by a joint director of the anti-corruption branch to probe alleged irregularities in teacher recruitment in primary schools and directed that its members cannot be transferred till the conclusion of the probe. He also directed that the members of the SIT will not be engaged in any matter other than probing the alleged irregularities in primary teacher recruitment.
He instructed the CBI to submit the names of the team members to him by Friday, June 17, as the probe will be monitored by the court. The CBI, on Friday, also submitted progress reports on its investigations conducted so far in the cases that the agency is probing on the court's orders.
The lawyer of Minister Paresh Adhikari's daughter submitted that Rs 7.94 lakh, which she had drawn as salary from her illegal appointment in a school, has been returned to the state Education Department as the first of two instalments that was asked of her.
State ministers Partha Chatterjee and Paresh Adhikari have been questioned by the CBI in connection with separate cases of school appointments. The judge had expressed dissatisfaction at the progress of the probe in these cases and said on Tuesday, June 14, that he had doubts whether it was the right move to burden the central agency with investigation into so many matters.
The judge wondered aloud in court whether it would have been better to form a special investigation team to probe the cases. Maintaining that the CBI is taking the matter very seriously, Bhattacharya told the court on Wednesday, June 15, that the coming weeks will be "very eventful". On being asked by the court whether there was any shortage of staff in its Kolkata office, the CBI counsel had said that it had been taken care of.