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CBI registers FIR against Bengal minister in teacher recruitment scam

West Minister of State for Education Paresh Adhikary appeared before CBI office for questioning in connection to the alleged irregularities in the School Service Commission (SSC) recruitment in the state, in Kolkata, on May 19.

West Minister of State for Education Paresh Adhikary appeared before CBI office for questioning in connection to the alleged irregularities in the School Service Commission (SSC) recruitment in the state, in Kolkata, on May 19. | Photo Credit: PTI

The Central Bureau of Investigation [CBI] on May 19 registered an FIR against West Bengal Minister of State for Education Paresh Chandra Adhikary.

The FIR came after an order by Calcutta High Court on May 17 directing the “CBI of Eastern Region to register a case and start the enquiry immediately” in connection with the appointment of the minister’s daughter as a teacher in the State-run school. 

Charges have been pressed against Mr. Adhikary and his daughter under Section 420 (cheating), 120 B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Section 7 of The Prevention of Corruption Act 1988.

The CBI’s FIR referred to an order by the High Court and added that as per the order, it is alleged that the merit list for appointment of Assistant Teachers in Class Xl-Xll in the subject of Political Science on the basis of advertisement published in the year 2016 “was altered to accommodate one Ms. Ankita Adhikary, daughter of Shri Paresh Chandra Adhikary, Minister, State of West Bengal while demoting the other candidates in the merit list and thereby giving appointment to the post of Class Xl-Xll teacher to Miss Ankita Adhikary, depriving other eligible candidates from getting appointment on merit”.

Babita Sarkar, who had appeared for the recruitment process for appointment of teachers in 2017 had approached the Court alleging irregularities in the appointment process. The Court in its order pointed out that Babita Sarkar got 77 marks but could not get appointment while the minister’s daughter (Anikta Adhikary) landed in the job with 61 marks.

Paresh Chandra Adhikary was formerly associated with All India Forward Bloc and was a Minister in Left Front Government before he joined the Trinamool Congress (TMC) in 2018. He was appointed a minister in 2021.

Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay of the Calcutta High Court, who had instructed CBI to start a probe had also directed Mr. Adhikary to appear before the agency by 8 p.m. on May 17. The minister, however, did not turn up that day.

On May 19, Justice Gangopadhyay directed the Bidhanagar Police Commissioner to get in touch with the airport authority immediately so that he can be taken to the CBI office directly after he landed from the flight he took from Bagdogra airport.

CRPF deployed

In a related development, the Court directed the deployment of CRPF personnel at the office of West Bengal School Service Commission [WBSSC]. The Commission carries out appointment of teachers in State-run schools and allegations of irregularities in appointments have come to the fore in the past few months. The Court’s directions is aimed to ensure there is no destruction of evidence. 

Justice Gangopadhyay said that CRPF will continue to guard the WBSSC office till May 20 and shall not allow any person except the chairman, his advisor, secretary, assistant secretary and not more than two stenographers. “Two CRPF personnel shall start guarding the data room in the second floor of the head office of the WBSSC in Salt Lake from now onward until further order,” the Court said.

On May 18, the CBI had questioned State’s Industry Minister Partha Chatterjee about the alleged irregularities. Mr. Chatterjee, a senior TMC leader, was the State’s education minister in the recent past and the alleged irregularities occurred when he held the Education portfolio. Political parties in the Opposition in the State continued to hit the streets over the allegation of irregularities in appointments carried out by WBSSC.

Cattle smuggling

Meanwhile, in another development, the CBI on May 19 questioned TMC leader and Birbhum district president Anubrata Mondal in connection with its investigation into a cattle smuggling case in the State. The interrogation was however cut short after Mr. Mondal complained of chest pain. The TMC strongman from Birbhum was later taken to State-run SSKM Hospital.

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Printable version | Jun 24, 2022 1:43:19 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/cbi-registers-fir-against-bengal-minister-in-teacher-recruitment-scam/article65430336.ece