6 April 2022 9:03 AM GMT
The Calcutta High Court on Tuesday allowed the CBI to interrogate S.P. Sinha, former chairman of the School Service Commission's advisory committee, and former education secretary Alok Sarkar pertaining to the alleged irregularities in the appointment of 'Group-D' (non-teaching staff) in State aided schools but barred the agency from taking them into custody. A High Powered Committee had...
The Calcutta High Court on Tuesday allowed the CBI to interrogate S.P. Sinha, former chairman of the School Service Commission's advisory committee, and former education secretary Alok Sarkar pertaining to the alleged irregularities in the appointment of 'Group-D' (non-teaching staff) in State aided schools but barred the agency from taking them into custody.
A High Powered Committee had been constituted by the State to oversee the recruitment of close to 13,000 non-teaching staff in government-aided schools. The 5 members of the High Powered Committee were- S. P. Sinha, Advisor to the West Bengal Central School Service Commission - the Convenor, S. Acharya, Personal Secretary to Minister in Charge of the Department, P. K. Bandyopadhyay, OSD to the MIC of Education Department, A. K. Sarkar, Deputy Director (GA Section), Directorate of School Education Department, T. Panja, Senior Law Officer of the department.
A Division Bench comprising Justice Subrata Talukdar and Justice Krishna Rao was adjudicating upon an appeal moved against a Single Judge order which had allowed the CBI to conduct custodial interrogation of the aforementioned members of the State appointed recruitment panel if the need arises.
The Division bench headed by Justice Subrata Talukdar, which issued the order, also agreed to hear cases related to alleged illegal appointment of teachers and other staff for secondary schools by the School Service Commission (SSC). Four other division benches of the court had refused to hear cases related to the recruitment scam before the matter came up before Justice Talukdar's bench.
In 2016, the State government had recommended the appointment of about 13,000 non-teaching staff in different government aided schools and accordingly the WBSSC had conducted examinations and interviews periodically and thereafter a panel had been constituted. The term of the panel had ended in 2019. However, subsequently, there were widespread allegations that the Commission had made several irregular recruitments close to almost 500 even after the expiry of the panel.
Partially modifying the impugned order, the Division Bench observed,
"This Court is of the view that the order of the Hon'ble Single Bench requires to be modified at this stage only to the extent that the appellant shall present himself for interrogation as directed and the CBI would act in terms of the order of the Hon'ble Single Bench without however taking recourse to custodial interrogation of the appellant."
The Court further clarified,
"Needless to dilate this order will axiomatically cover, if and as applicable, other identically circumstanced persons as the appellant."
The Court further underscored that in the event the appellant fails to present himself for interrogation before the CBI as directed by the Single Judge Bench, the CBI shall be entitled to take recourse to steps in accordance with law.
In the impugned order, Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay had directed S.P. Sinha, former Advisor of the School Service Commission to appear before the CBI by 3pm on Tuesday for further interrogation. and had also ordered the Officer-in-Charge of the Survey Park Police Station to ensure his presence before the CBI.
It may be noted that a Division Bench comprising Justice Soumen Sen and Justice Ajoy Kumar Mukherjee had imposed a stay on Justice Gangopadhyay's earlier order by directing the CBI to not register any FIR or call him for interrogation until April 4.
Justice Gangopadhyay had further allowed the CBI to conduct custodial interrogation of A. K. Sarkar, who was the officer who was in charge of vacancies in the schools along with Sinha. He had opined that Sarkar had played a 'very important' role in the whole scam.
Rest of the recruitment Committee members had been directed to file an affidavit containing details of their assets by Justice Gangopadhyay on the next date of hearing which is slated to take place on April 8 at 3pm.
Also Read: SSC 'Group D' Recruitment Scam| Calcutta High Court Permits CBI To Conduct Custodial Interrogation Of Recruitment Panel Members If Need Arises
Also Read: 'Left Remediless': Lawyer Complains To Calcutta High Court CJ As Yet Another Bench Recuses From Group D Recruitment Scam Case
Case Title: Dr Santi Prasad Sinha v. Laxmi Tunga and ors.
Case Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Cal) 107
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