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West Bengal: Banerjee’s Achilles heel

Cal HC directs minister to appear before CBI in connection with SSC scam

May 18, 2022
Mita Mukherjee

Calcutta High Court directed Bengal minister Partha Chatterjee to appear before CBI by 6 pm on Wednesday in connection with the alleged illegal appointments of non-teaching employees and teachers of state-aided schools in the state on the recommendations of the state School Service Commission.

A division bench of the Calcutta High Court today upheld the orders of a single bench that had directed Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to inquire into the alleged illegal appointments given by the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education on the basis of  the recommendations of the West Bengal School Service Commission.

After the division bench passed the order, a single bench of Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay directed former education minister Partha Chatrerjee who is currently the state commerce and industry minister to appear before the CBI at its office in Kolkata before 6pm today . Chatterjee is also the minister of the state IT and electronics and parliamentary affairs departments.

The minister appealed a division bench of Justice Harish Tandon and Justice Rabindra Nath Samanata against the summons. But the matter was not accepted for hearing as the files were not in order, sources said. Chatterjee later reached the CBI office at around 5.45 pm.

The  high court on Wednesday has sought a report from the CBI on the matter by 2pm by Thursday.

A single bench of Abhijit Gangopadhyay today also directed the CBI to take Chatterjee into custody if he doesn’t cooperate with the investigation.

The judge said that he would expect Chatterjee to step down as minister in the interest of justice.

The division bench comprising justices Subrata Talukdar and A K Mukherjee described the irregularities in the appointment of Group C, Group D and assistant teachers of state-aided schools by the state School Service Commission as a public scam and said that the single bench of Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay was not wrong in ordering a CBI probe in the alleged money trail.

According to the division bench no intervention was required for the single bench order.

Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay appealed to Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankar and chief minister Mamata Banerjee to remove Chatterjee from the existing posts.

Earlier on April 13, the high court had directed Chatterjee to appear before the CBI office for investigation. But a division bench of the court had stayed that order.

The single bench had passed seven orders directing CBI to inquire into the alleged irregularities in the appointments of non-teaching employees and teachers for Classes IX and X of state-aided schools. All the orders had earlier been stayed by the division bench on a series of appeals.

The division bench today accepted the recommendations of Justice R K Bag committee constituted by the court earlier that had called for prosecution of the then senior officials connected to the 

According to the division bench  the scam had apparently taken place involving high ranking officials of the education department of West Bengal government, the  single bench was well within its powers and its order was not prejudiced.

Also Read: West Bengal: Universities to decide on mode of exams

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