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Day Of Recusals In Calcutta High Court : Several Benches Recuse From Hearing SSC 'Group-D' Recruitment Scam Case

Aaratrika Bhaumik
4 April 2022 3:31 PM GMT
Day Of Recusals In Calcutta High Court : Several Benches Recuse From Hearing SSC Group-D Recruitment Scam Case
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In an unprecedented development, the Calcutta High Court on Monday witnessed various Benches either recusing or declining to hear a batch of appeals pertaining to the alleged irregularities in the appointment of 'Group-D' (non-teaching staff) in sponsored Secondary and Higher Secondary schools under the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education (WBBSE) on the purported recommendation by the...

In an unprecedented development, the Calcutta High Court on Monday witnessed various Benches either recusing or declining to hear a batch of appeals pertaining to the alleged irregularities in the appointment of 'Group-D' (non-teaching staff) in sponsored Secondary and Higher Secondary schools under the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education (WBBSE) on the purported recommendation by the West Bengal School Service Commission (WBSSC).

Proceedings pertaining to the recruitment scam have been in the spotlight ever since repeated orders for a CBI probe by a single judge bench of Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay have been either stayed or set aside by a Division Bench comprising Justice Harish Tandon and Justice Rabindranath Samanta

Justice Gangopadhyay on Wednesday had passed a scathing order against the direction issued by the Division Bench to accept an affidavit containing details of the assets possessed by S.P. Sinha, former Advisor of the School Service Commission in a 'sealed cover'

High Drama In Calcutta HC As Single Judge Objects To Division Bench Direction To Accept Document In "Sealed Cover"

Recording serious displeasure against such an order by the Division Bench, Justice Gangopadhyay had observed, "I do not know what this court will do with a sealed cover in this proceeding when the hand of this appeal court has been tied by the above observation. I have been prevented from taking any consequential step on going through the said affidavit of assets." 

He had further opined that the 'highest degree of double standard' has been expressed by the Division Bench and that his hands have been tied from properly adjudicating the case. 

Subsequently, on Thursday, Justice Gangopadhyay had directed the regional head of the CBI to call upon S.P. Sinha, former Advisor of the WBSSC in course of the day and start questioning him. However, a Division Bench comprising Justice Soumen Sen and Justice Ajoy Kumar Mukherjee had stayed such an order until the Regular Bench comprising Justice Harish Tandon and Justice Rabindranath Samanta hears the matter on Monday i.e. on April 4.

On Friday, Justice Gangopadhyay had further directed the CBI to call for questioning all members of the High Powered Committee which had been constituted in 2016 by the Education Department of the West Bengal government to oversee the recruitment of close to 13,000 non-teaching staff in government-aided schools. 

On Monday, the regular Bench comprising Justice Harish Tandon and Justice Rabindranath Samanta informed senior advocate Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharyya representing the alleged illegally recruited candidates that they were recusing from hearing all the cases pertaining to the alleged recruitment scam on their personal ground. 

"We are not inclined to take up the matter on our personal ground", Justice Harish Tandon orally remarked while speaking on behalf of the Bench.

Almost simultaneously, Justice Gangopadhyay on Monday expressed reservations to the fact that despite his earlier directions members of the State appointed recruitment panel had not appeared before the CBI on Friday on the ground that the Division Bench was scheduled to hear their appeal on Monday. 

Accordingly, he directed the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Central) and the Commissioner of Police of Bidhan Nagar Police Commissionerate to ensure the presence of 4 members of the High Powered Committee by 4 pm on Monday. 

Right after the recusal by the Division Bench, the counsels appearing on behalf of the members of the High Powered Committee had approached the Chief Justice's Bench at 1pm on Monday praying for the assignment of the cases before a new Bench so that appeals could be expeditiously heard. 

Agreeing to assign the cases before a new Bench, Chief Justice Prakash Shrivastava had remarked orally, "I will look into it on the administrative side, I will consider it". Accordingly, the cases were listed before a Division Bench comprising Justice T.S. Sivagnanam and Justice Sabyasachi Bhattacharya

However, the newly assigned Division Bench declined to hear the appeals following which the appeals were again re-assigned to a Division Bench comprising Justice Soumen Sen and Justice Ajoy Kumar Mukherjee. However, they too declined to hear the appeals. 

In a new notification published on the High Court's website, the cases were finally assigned to a Division Bench comprising Justice Joymalya Bagchi and Justice Bivas Pattanayak. The appeals are slated to be heard by this Division Bench tomorrow. 

Background 

A series of orders issued by Justice Gangopadhyay directing for a CBI probe have been stayed or quashed by the Division Bench pertaining to the alleged recruitment scam. A Division Bench comprising Justice Harish Tandon and Justice Rabindranath Samanta had earlier quashed Justice Gangopadhyay's order which had directed the CBI to conduct a probe into the alleged recruitment scam.

Subsequently, the Division Bench had again imposed a stay for 2 weeks on Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay's order wherein a similar CBI probe had been ordered into the alleged recruitment scam. Thereafter, the Division Bench had extended the interim order granting stay for a period of 4 weeks after noting that the record reflects a 'shocking state of affairs' pertaining to the alleged illegal recruitments.

The Division Bench had also up an inquiry committee headed by Justice Ranjit Kumar Bagh, former judge of the Calcutta High Court to probe into the recruitment scam. The other members of the committee includes Asutosh Ghosh, Member of West Bengal School Service Commission, Paromita Roy, Deputy Secretary (Administration), West Bengal Board of Secondary Education and advocate Arunava Banerjee, a practicing lawyer of the High Court.








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