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Kolkata

Cal HC-instituted panel seeks action against top officials for 'illegal' school appointments

Cal HC-instituted panel seeks action against top officials for illegal school appointments
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Kolkata: A Calcutta High Court-instituted committee, headed by one of its former judges, on Friday submitted a report stating that 381 illegal appointments were made for Group-C posts in schools run or aided by the West Bengal government.

The committee recommended criminal proceedings against four former state School Service Commission (SSC) officials and the incumbent president of West Bengal Board of Secondary Education.

It also suggested that disciplinary proceedings be initiated against six other former senior SSC officials.

The report by Justice (retd) R K Bag-headed committee said that a five-member panel formed in 2019 by the Education Department, when senior TMC leader Partha Chatterjee held the portfolio, for monitoring recruitments of teaching and non-teaching staff did not have any legal validity.

It stated that WBBSE president Kalyanmoy Ganguly was hand-in-glove with SP Sinha, the chief of the five-member committee, in making the illegal appointments.

A division bench comprising justices Subrata Talukdar and Ananda Kumar Mukherjee directed that it will pass judgement on the matter on May 18.

Member of the Justice Bag committee, advocate Arunabha Bandopadhyay, who submitted the report before the bench, said that massive irregularities were committed in giving appointments to the 381 candidates, with rules and procedures being bypassed.

Maintaining that the recommendations for appointments made by the SSC to WBBSE were fabricated, the panel called for penal action against Saumitra Sarkar, former chairman of SSC, Ashok Saha, former secretary of SSC, Kalyanmoy Ganguly, WBBSE president, S P Sinha, former advisor to SSC and chief of the five-member committee, and S Acharya, who was the programme officer of SSC.

It noted that forged recommendation letters by SSC were prepared for the 381 jobs in Group-C posts in state-run and -aided schools.

The report also recommended disciplinary action by the government against the then top officials of regional and central school service commissions in the state -- Subiresh Bhattacharya, Sarmila Mitra, Mahua Biswas, Chaitali Bhattacharya, Subhajit Chattopadhyay and Sk Sirajuddin.

The Bag committee had earlier submitted its report before the court on alleged irregularities in appointments of Group-D staff.

The division bench, which is hearing several appeals connected to appointments under the School Service Commission (SSC) to posts of assistant teachers for classes IX and X, Group-C and Group-D staff, had on April 13 extended a stay for five weeks on an order of Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay that asked Partha Chatterjee, who is at present holding the portfolios of Parliamentary Affairs, Industry and Commerce, to appear before the CBI.

"The order of stay as granted by this court on the 12th of April, 2022 shall continue for a period of five weeks from this date," the bench had directed.

The single bench of Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay had ordered the CBI to inquire into the alleged irregularities in these appointments, and stopped the salaries of some employees found to have been illegally appointed, on petitions by aspirants for jobs in these categories.

Appearing for the West Bengal government, Advocate General S N Mookerjee opposed a CBI probe, submitting on Friday that the central agency is not always required for holding investigations, claiming that the state has its own machinery for probing the allegations.

Insisting that there is no reason why the court should not have confidence in the state, he submitted that the bench can constitute a special investigation team (SIT) to hold the probe.

Partha Chatterjee's counsel barrister Anindya Mitra submitted before the division bench that he has filed three appeals challenging different orders of Justice Gangopadhyay, but those were not on the list of cases marked for hearing before it.

Mitra prayed that these be taken up for hearing, too.

Appearing for the petitioners -- all job aspirants -- senior advocate Bikash Bhattacharya submitted that the two reports on Group C and D appointments indicate a conspiracy at the highest level and that money trail, if any, needs to be identified.

He prayed that the investigation be handed over to either the CBI or an agency monitored by the court.

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