5 March 2022 9:00 AM GMT
The Calcutta High Court on Thursday again ordered for a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe in another matter pertaining to the alleged illegal appointment of assistant teachers in State run schools in West Bengal. The Court was adjudicating upon a batch of pleas alleging the illegal appointment of assistant teachers for Class 9 and Class 10 in State run schools pertaining to...
The Calcutta High Court on Thursday again ordered for a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe in another matter pertaining to the alleged illegal appointment of assistant teachers in State run schools in West Bengal.
The Court was adjudicating upon a batch of pleas alleging the illegal appointment of assistant teachers for Class 9 and Class 10 in State run schools pertaining to the West Bengal State Level Selection Test (SLST) on the purported recommendation by the West Bengal School Service Commission (WBSSC).
The Court had earlier ordered for a CBI probe in a similar matter after observing that such a scam with regards to public employment could not have taken place without the complicity of people in power in the State machinery. Thereafter, the West Bengal government had moved a Division Bench of the High Court challenging the Single Bench order.
Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay directed the Director, Central Bureau of Investigation to constitute a Committee immediately headed by an officer not below the rank of Joint Director with officers not below the rank of D.I.G. to initiate the enquiry.
"..in this matter also, I direct the C.B.I. enquiry, as the C.B.I. is an expert agency which is not under the control of State Government, in a scam where a Committee has been formed with the important officers of the State Government by the School Education Department. Therefore, I direct the Director, Central Bureau of Investigation to constitute a Committee immediately, headed by an officer not below the rank of Joint Director with officers not below the rank of D.I.G. to initiate the enquiry. It is expected that all the persons named in the said order of the Government including the "competent authority‟ with whose concurrence the order was issued and any other person from whom CBI want to gather facts for inquiry of the matter should come under the umbrella of the enquiry", the Court underscored.
The Court however observed that it does have confidence upon the police of this State but since the police is controlled by the State and in effect they are chained by orders from the different quarters, an independent agency is required to probe into the alleged irregularities.
"As C.B.I. is an agency outside the control of this State, I am directing the C.B.I. to hold this enquiry which has happened in this State wherein a Committee constituted by the State of highly placed officials was acting and the tip of "corruption-ice-berg" is found", the Court observed further.
The Court further stated that such illegality could not have happened without the complicity of people in power in the State machinery. It was also opined that it is 'unthinkable' that such illegal appointees, who are sometimes below some deserving rank holders or sometimes not in the list even have got public employment in schools where salaries are paid from public exchequer.
The CBI was also directed to enquire whether there is any money trail in respect of such appointments. It was also underscored that the Court expects zero tolerance to corruption which is now a policy of State to be followed by all.
The CBI was also entrusted with the following responsibilities,
"i) take steps to know in respect of the five persons in the order of the Government of West Bengal dated 01.11.2019 and others felt necessary by CBI immediately and to file an interim report by fifteen days from date of service of a copy of the order before this court and
ii) start enquiring the matter forthwith and to file an interim report as to the enquiry by one month from the date of starting enquiry. The report is to be filed before this court."
This matter was ordered to be listing for further hearing on March 21, 2022 for the interim report in respect of the said five persons of the committee and the competent authority at whose direction the order was passed and thereafter on April 20, 2022 or filing the interim report by the C.B.I.
The petitioners had approached the Court alleging that the selection process conducted by the WBSCC was arbitrary and had thus sought for the quashing of the selection panel and de novo counseling along with the release of a fresh merit list.
Opining that recommendation had been done by the WBSCC surreptitiously, the Court remarked further,
"I have found that the recommendation was done surreptitiously..If an authority acts surreptitiously in giving recommendation then the persons who are suffering has to act like a sleuth."
Justice Gangopadhyay also referred to order dated November 1, 2019 passed by the Joint Secretary of the Government of West Bengal of Secondary Branch of School Education Department of Government of West Bengal constituting a 5 member Committee to oversee the ongoing recruitment process of assistant teachers. The Chairman of the Commission was given the post of ex-officio Chairman of the Committee.
The Court noted that the order is 'extremely surprising' as there is no mention of the provision of law under which such an order had been issued by the School Education Department. It was also opined that the Committee had not been constituted in accordance with Section 19 of the West Bengal School Service Commission Act, 1997 which authorises the State government to issue directions.
"Why suddenly supervision and monitoring of pending recruitment process were required to be taken up by this Committee is not mentioned in the said order. The Commission was a complete body constituted by a statue full of experts and it has its own work force for doing all the jobs done which the Commission did for several recruitment processes wherein an average three lakhs or so candidates participated. Why this time such a Committee was constituted shall always remain a question until some enquiry is made in respect of the role of these members of the Committee", the Court underscored further.
The Court further dismissed the contentions raised by senior advocate Kishore Dutta appearing for the WBSCC by observing that they were in the nature of technical objections. The Court also highlighted that such technical objections had been raised after the senior counsel had admitted that the WBSCC had made an 'inadvertent mistake' which the Court refused to accept.
Coming down heavily for the advancement of such submissions on behalf of the WBSCC, Justice Gangopadhyay remarked further,
"While I was hearing the technical objections raised by Mr. Dutta not the legal principles but two lines of a poem in the collection named "Naibedya" by Rabindranath Tagore came into my mind. (Where technicalities have not gulped the course of justice). And I started thinking as to why the court of law has become the playground of fantastic law- knowing advocates who can make speech by referring to thousands of fantastic legal principles, none of which is applicable in view of the corruption that is coming to the fore and fraud is being practiced upon a large number of educated and unemployed youth. I have not accepted the contentions of Mr. Dutta Learned Senior Advocate"
Accordingly, the Court ordered for a CBI probe into the matter.
Case Title: Setab Uddin & Ors v. The State of West Bengal & Ors.
Case Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Cal) 69
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