The Calcutta High Court on Tuesday ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry into the alleged irregularities in the recruitment of political science teachers for Class X1 and XII in the state-run schools of West Bengal.
In an unprecedented move, the Court also advised Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Governor Jagdeep Dhankar to immediately suspend the minister for education, Paresh Chandra Adhikari, from his post since his daughter, Ankita Adhikari, was appointed without even figuring in the merit list or appearing for a personality test.
Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay passed the direction while adjudicating upon a plea filed by an aggrieved candidate who had alleged that she had been deprived of the job despite having secured higher marks than the Minister's daughter in the recruitment examination. It had further been claimed by the petitioner that she had secured 77 marks in the recruitment examination, while the Minister's daughter had secured only 61.
The Court opined that it has full faith upon the State police force however it cannot be denied that the 'hands of the police force' are always influenced by those in power. Directing for a CBI enquiry, the Court observed,
"This court has full faith upon the police force of this city and State. All the inhabitants of West Bengal know how efficient they are and everybody will admit the efficiency of the police force and it is also the experience of people that the hands of the police forces are always tied by the persons in power. Therefore, in my view inquiry by CBI is the only option here."
Accordingly, the Court directed the CBI of Fasterm Region to register a case and to start an enquiry immediately by constituting a team. The petitioner was further instructed to communicate the gist of the order of CBI enquiry immediately to the CBI office.
Opining that the CBI should not waste any time to start any enquiry and further ordering the Education Minister to appear before the CBI by 8pm today, the Court underscored,
"I direct the said Paresh Chandra Adhikary to go to the CBI by 8 p.m. today so that CBI can start interrogating him in every possible manner for knowing the facts."
Justice Gangopadhyay further opined that it is imperative that steps are taken to 'cleanse the whole situation of polity' and accordingly recommended that the Chief Minister and the Governor should consider removing the minister from his post.
"Lastly I say that we have to reach to a cleaner and better society. As the name of one Minister of State is involved in this matter, to cleanse the whole situation of polity, I would expect that the said person, Mr. Paresh Chandra Adhikary would either step down or would be removed from the post of Minister and the Chief Minister and the Governor of this state would think over the matter. It is made clear that this is not my order or direction, nor any observation for the removal. This is only an expectation of this constitutional court that we are to look for a better tomorrow", the Court observed.
It was further observed that there is definitely the involvement of some 'powerful invisible hands' in this recruitment scam which is why the minister's daughter had been included in the waitlist. These hands are to be identified, the Court remarked further.
Thus, the CBI was ordered to a file a preliminary report of such enquiry on the next date of hearing which is slated to take place on June 7 at 2pm.
It may be noted that a Court appointed inquiry committed headed by Justice Ranjit Kumar Bagh, former judge of the Calcutta High Court had on May 13 submitted a report before a Division Bench stipulating that 381 Group C post appointments in State government/aided schools were illegal and had recommended criminal proceedings against top State government officials. The Division Bench is slated to pass its judgment in the matter on May 18.
Justice Gangopadhyay had earlier also imposed a stay till June 17 upon the recruitment process of assistant teachers for Class 9 and Class 10 in State run schools pertaining to the West Bengal State Level Selection Test (SLST) after taking into account allegations regarding irregularities in appointments. The West Bengal School Service Commission had further been ordered to publish within 10 days the merit list of the State Level Selection Test, 2016 with clear break-up of marks secured in written test, academic and professional score and personality test.
It may also be noted that Justice Gangopadhyay had on four earlier occasions ordered CBI inquiries in connection with alleged irregularities in appointments of teaching and non-teaching staff in State government and government aided schools.
A Division Bench had earlier extended a stay for five weeks on an earlier order of Justice Gangopadhyay directing West Bengal minister Partha Chatterjee to appear before the CBI for questioning in connection with a petition alleging irregularities in appointment of assistant teachers in state government-aided schools.
Case Title: Babita Sarkar v. The State of West Bengal & Ors.
Case Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Cal) 183