School Group D Recruitment Corruption Case: Calcutta High Court Seeks Fresh Affidavit from WB Board

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School Group D Recruitment Corruption Case: Calcutta High Court Seeks Fresh Affidavit from WB Board

More and more skeletons seem to be tumbling out of the closet even as Calcutta High Court continues to hear the alleged irregularities in the appointment of Group D staff in state-run schools of West Bengal.

The West Bengal Board of Secondary Education (WBBSE) found itself on a sticky wicket after Thursday’s hearing. The state’s School Service Commission submitted a sworn affidavit before the court stating the body had not recommended the appointment of the 25 group D staff members, whose appointments are currently under the legal scanner. It argued that the appointments were, in fact, given by the Board despite the absence of such recommendation.

It was also revealed during the course of Thursday’s hearing that not just the 25 recruitments under question, the Board may have given over 500 similar appointments whose legal standing now stand challenged.

The Board, on the other hand, argued that it had given appointments only on the basis of the Commission’s recommendation. The Court has now directed the Board president to submit an affidavit stating its position latest by Monday, 3.30 PM, when it would hear the matter next.

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The Court has also directed the Commission and the Board to preserve all documents pertaining to appointments of Group D staff in schools till the case is disposed of. It has already directed the government to stop the disbursement of salaries to the appointees whose recruitment are under probe.

While presiding over the hearing where the two agencies blamed each other over the irregularities, Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay slammed the Commission and the Board and observed, “Everybody who comes before this court claim they are honest and clean. Yet the society remains steeped in corruption.”

The Bengal government, meanwhile, has proposed an investigation into the so-called “scam” by a high-powered committed headed by a retired judge, which the petitioners have also prima-facie agreed to.

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Back in 2016, the Mamata Banerjee government had approved the appointment of some 13,000 Group D staff in state-run schools. Based on that approval, the Bengal School Service Commission conducted exams, held interviews and drew up a panel of prospective employees whose validity expired in May, 2019.

Earlier this month, a section of candidates who failed to secure appointments despite remaining enlisted in the panel moved court alleging that the Commission had illegally recommended appointments from the panel even after its expiry. The petitioners presented 25 such “illegal appointments” and drew the court’s attention to a “deep-rooted corruption mechanism” sitting firm within the system.

During the course of back-to-back hearings this week the Court has lashed out at the Commission and warned it of a CBI probe into the corruption charges, if required. Justice Gangopadhyay had also observed out loud that he was toying with the idea of deploying central forces in the Commission’s office to prevent recruitment documents from getting tampered with.

“It is baffling that the Commission and the Board are now pointing fingers at each other with neither willing to shoulder the responsibility of this corruption. We want an impartial probe into this. We do not want any state agency to investigate. We are willing to accept a high-powered judicial probe. Else, let the matter be handed over to the CBI,” said Bikram Banerjee, Counsel for one of the petitioners.

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