Bengal challenges Calcutta high court order on CBI probe in teacher recruitment

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The West Bengal government on Tuesday moved a two-judge bench of the Calcutta high court challenging Monday’s single bench order that told the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to conduct a preliminary inquiry into alleged irregularities in the appointment of 25 group ‘D’ employees in schools run by the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education (WBBSE).

The process to recruit around 13,000 group ‘D’ staff began in 2016. The West Bengal School Service Commission (WBSSC) interviewed the applicants and drew up a panel of candidates who could be appointed. The panel was valid till March 2019.

Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay, while hearing a petition filed by some unsuccessful candidates, ordered a CBI officer of the rank of deputy inspector general to complete the preliminary probe and submit a report to the court by December 21 when the next hearing will take place.

The petitioners alleged that ineligible candidates got jobs in state-run schools and many of them were inducted after the validity of the panel expired in 2019. The petitioners estimated that the number of such candidates could be as high as 500.

The Bengal government, WBBSE and WBSSC on Tuesday jointly moved the division bench of justices Harish Tandon and Rabindranath Samanta and sought permission to present its petition challenging the order of justice Gangopadhyay.

Government lawyers expect the two-judge bench to hear their appeal on Wednesday or later this week.

During the two hearings on the petition by unsuccessful candidates last week, justice Gangopadhyay at one point warned that he may ask personnel of central armed police force to take control of the WBSSC office and order the CBI to scrutinise its records

On second hearing held last week, WBSSC told the court in a written submission that the recruitment of 50 candidates was illegal since it did not clear these candidates. The commission also sought an inquiry by a retired judge of the Calcutta high court, implying that the board of secondary education may have recruited people who were ineligible.

Justice Gangopadhyay on Monday turned down the WBSSC’s suggestion for an inquiry by a retired judge or a panel of three retired judges of the Calcutta high court, and ordered an initial probe by CBI.

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