The Calcutta High Court on Wednesday ordered the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to set up a special investigation team (SIT) under the supervision of a Joint Director of its anti-corruption branch to probe alleged irregularities in the recruitment of teachers in state government-sponsored and aided primary schools.
The Court also directed that the SIT members cannot be transferred from Kolkata until the conclusion of the probe.
Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay on the last date of hearing had directed the CBI to file an FIR to initiate an investigation into alleged illegal recruitment of teachers by the board based on the teachers' eligibility test in 2014. Furthermore, the primary education board secretary Ratna Chakraborti Bagchi and president Manik Bhattacharya were also ordered to appear before the CBI at its office later by 5pm on Monday.
"CBI shall constitute a Special Investigation Team (SIT) of competent officers who will be the only members of the SIT and whose names will be supplied to this court on 17th June, 2022 when these two matters will appear under the heading "To Be Mentioned" at the top of the list. The Joint Director who is now heading the Anti-Corruption Bureau of CBI shall be the head of the SIT whose name also shall be intimated to this court by CBI on 17.06.2022. The members of SIT and the said Joint Director shall not be transferred from Kolkata till the investigation is complete in every respect", the Court ordered.
Opining further that the Court will monitor the probe, the Court underscored,
"The investigation by CBI in this matter being WPA 7907 of 2019 and in the other matter being WPA 9979 of 2022 shall be a court monitored investigation. It was so earlier also but such formal declaration was not there. Now such formal declaration is made by this court."
Pertinently, Justice Gangopadhyay on Wednesday expressed doubts over the progress of the CBI probe and accordingly remarked that no substantial progress has been made.
"In respect of CBI investigation in education employment scam uptil now and in some other matters, the investigation by CBI is not very satisfactory in the opinion of this court. The above two matters have been entrusted to CBI only few days back, but some other matters in respect of investigation in Secondary Education were entrusted to CBI some months back regarding which I have not been intimated any substantial progress", the Court opined.
However, the counsel appearing for the D.I.G. of Anti Corruption Bureau of CBI submitted before the Court that the CBI is doing its work according to its own speed which may always not be known or disclosed to the general public and that any such development will definitely be intimated to the Court.
Expressing hope that CBI will record noticeable advancement in the investigation, in which appointment of 269 primary teachers were found to be illegal, Justice Gangopadhyay observed,
"I accept this submission but at the same time I expect that CBI will conduct the investigation in all earnest and by its action, the court should not feel that CBI is not doing any real work in future because the court has given a very very important responsibility upon CBI relating to scam in education sector appointments including school teachers which has very serious ramification because if unscrupulous persons are appointed as teachers by purchasing the teaching jobs, this court does not believe that such persons will be able to impart any moral education and build the characters of the tender aged students."
Accordingly, the matters were listed for further hearing on June 17.
Appearing before the Court in person, former CBI additional director Upendranath Biswas, who had headed the probe into the Bihar fodder scam that led to the conviction of that state's former chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, suggested that a SIT be constituted to probe the irregularities in the recruitment of teachers in Bengal under the court's supervision.
Biswas, who was made a party respondent in the primary teacher recruitment case over a social media post by him, also suggested that the CBI be directed that the officers engaged in the probe be dedicated to investigation into the case and that not be transferred till the submission of the final report. A minister in the first Mamata Banerjee government from 2011 to 2016, Biswas had named one Chandan Mondal of Bagda, North 24 Parganas for allegedly giving jobs of primary school teachers in lieu of money.
Case Title: Ramesh Malik & Ors v. The State of West Bengal & Ors
Case Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Cal) 242