Calcutta HC cancels minister’s daughter’s appointment, directs to return salary  

The Calcutta High Court on Friday directed that Ankita Adhikary, daughter of West Bengal Minister of State for Education Paresh Chandra Adhikary, be removed from the post of teacher in a State-run school and also instructed her to return the salary received from the school. Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay also directed that Ms. Adhikary will not be treated as a teacher and she or any person on her behalf will not be allowed inside the school premises.

On May 17, in an order, Justice Gangopadhyay had pointed at irregularities in the appointment of Ms. Adhikary and directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to register an FIR against the minister and his daughter. The FIR was registered on May 19. Justice Gangopadhyay, in his order on Friday, said that the post to which Ms. Adhikary was appointed shall be earmarked for the petitioner Babita Sarkar. Ms. Adhikari will deposit the salary received for 41 months to the Registrar of Calcutta High Court in two installments in June and July.  Ms. Adhikary has been working as a teacher since November 2018 at Indira Girl’s High School in West Bengal’s Cooch Behar district.

On Friday, Paresh Chandra Adhikary was questioned by the CBI for the second consecutive day over the “illegal” appointment of his daughter. Mr. Adhikary, formerly with All India Forward Bloc and a minister in the Left Front government, joined Trinamool Congress in 2018. The FIR by the CBI had charged the minister and his daughter under Section 420 (cheating), 120 B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 7 of The Prevention of Corruption Act 1988.

WBSSC recruitments

Meanwhile, another minister and senior Trinamool Congress leader Partha Chatterjee, who is facing the heat over recruitments carried out by the West Bengal School Service Commission ( WBSSC) during his tenure as Education Minister, had approached the division bench seeking that he be absolved of the cases. 

Mr. Chatterjee had also sought that the portion of Justice Gangopadhyay’s order, where he had asked the CBI to interrogate the minister in custody if required and suggests to the State government that the Minister should resign, be struck down. While a division bench of Justice Subrata Talukdar and Justice Anand Kumar Mukherjee did not give any reprieve to the minister, it added that the observations made by the single bench were not binding on the agencies or the government.

During the proceedings in the Court, the CBI informed that they have sealed rooms at the headquarters at WBSSC and sought documents from the officials of the Education Department.  Partha Chatterjee has been made party to all cases involving allegations of irregularities in appointments carried out by WBSSC.

The CBI is not only probing the illegal appointment of the minister’s daughter but also irregularities in appointment of Group C and Group D staff made by WBSSC.  The officials of the WBSSC including representatives of an advisory committee are also being questioned by the central agency.

Opposition protests

Opposition parties in the State continued to hit the streets in protest against irregularities in appointments made by WBSSC.  Supporters of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) held protests at Bikash Bhawan, the headquarters of State Education Department.  Activists of AIDSO (All India Democratic Students Organisation) held protests at Hazra crossing near the residence of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. While Ms. Banerjee has so far not made any comments on the recruitment scam, on Thursday, she threatened to expose the corruption in the recruitment during the Left Front regime.

State Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said that the Calcutta High Court has exposed corruption of TMC regimes and there are “several Ankitas (Ankita Adhikary) who have got jobs at the cost of deserving candidates”.

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Printable version | Jun 17, 2022 11:59:56 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/calcutta-hc-cancels-ministers-daughters-appointment-directs-to-returnsalary/article65439229.ece