The Calcutta High Court on Thursday modified its earlier order for sealing of the office of the State's School Service Commission till 1pm on Thursday by granting liberty to the Chairman, Advisor to the Chairman, Assistant Secretary and stenographers of the Commission to enter the office without any hinderance caused by the central forces deployed there.
Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay in an unprecedented move had directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) which is probing the alleged irregularities in the recruitment of teachers in West Bengal government schools, to seek assistance of central forces in securing the State's School Service Commission office.
The Judge had conducted a special hearing of the case from 10:40 pm onwards on Wednesday night after the incumbent SSC Chairperson Siddhartha Majumdar resigned from his post, four months after taking charge. Following the news of the Chairperson's resignation, two counsels of the petitioners met Justice Gangopadhyay and apprised him that there existed an apprehension that crucial evidence could be tampered with in the wake of the new SSC chairperson taking charge.
"As the matter is in the hand of the CBI and as CBI has been granted liberty to take help of the Central Reserve Police Force, I direct the petitioner to intimate CBI to take up the matter with Central Reserve Police Force immediately so that CRPF personnel can be deployed to protect the building being Acharya Sadan, Salt Lake and the CRPF personnel shall not allow anybody to enter into the said building till 1.00 p.m. tomorrow without leave of the Court. No employees including officers and no other persons shall be allowed to enter the said West Bengal School Service Commission at 11 & 11/1, Block EE, Acharya Sadan, Salt Lake City, Kolkata – 700091. The learned advocate of the petitioner is granted liberty to communicate, this order to CBI immediately so that Police Force is deployed by the CRPF forthwith by 2 (two) hours from the communication to CBI", the Court had recorded in its order.
On Thursday morning, Justice Gangopadhyay opined that he is modifying his earlier order in the 'interest of justice' by permitting the Chairman of the Commission, Advisor to the Chairman, Assistant Secretary and stenographers of the Commission to enter the office without any obstruction.
The Court however underscored that nobody apart from the aforementioned officials should be allowed the enter the office premises till 1pm without the leave of the Court.
On Wednesday night, the Court had also ordered for the preservation of CCTV footage and had accordingly observed, "The Secretary of the School Service Commission is directed to produce the CCTV footage before me at 12.30 a.m. tomorrow. The Secretary is to preserve all the digital information and the database if not already destroyed."
It may be noted that Justice Gangopadhyay on Tuesday had ordered a CBI probe into the alleged irregularities in the recruitment of political science teachers for Class X1 and XII in the state-run schools of West Bengal and had further directed minister for education Paresh Chandra Adhikari to appear before the CBI since his daughter, Ankita Adhikari had allegedly been appointed without even figuring in the merit list or appearing for a personality test. The Judge had further opined that it is imperative that steps are taken to 'cleanse the whole situation of polity' and had accordingly recommended that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and the Governor Jagdeep Dhankar should consider removing the minister from his post.
Earlier in the day on Wednesday, a Division bench of the High Court upheld orders of Justice Gangopadhyay that had directed the CBI to probe into the alleged irregularities in Group-C posts (non-teaching staff) in State government run schools of the purported recommendation of the State's School Service Commission.
Furthermore, Justice Gangopadhyay on Wednesday had also instructed state Minister Partha Chatterjee to appear before the CBI in connection with the illegal appointments made during his tenure as the Education Minister. The minister had subsequently failed to get relief from a Division Bench on Wednesday due to which Chatterjee was compelled to reach the CBI office at 5:40 pm on Wednesday.
Case Title: Babita Sarkar v. The State of West Bengal & Ors