The Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed the CBI to proceed with its investigation of the alleged irregularities in appointment of primary teachers in West Bengal government-sponsored and aided schools. The top court agreed with the submission of Additional Solicitor General S V Raju, appearing on behalf of the CBI, that the agency is in the process of uncovering a recruitment scam of extraordinary dimension and the investigation at this stage prima facie reveals exchange of monetary considerations for giving appointments.
“In our opinion, under normal circumstances, it would not be appropriate to straightaway direct CBI investigation in a recruitment related controversy unless the allegations are so outrageous and the perpetrators of the alleged offences are so powerful that investigation by the state police would be ineffectual. “But considering the submission of counsel for the CBI and the fact that investigation by the said agency has substantially progressed, we do not want to stall such investigation at this stage and wait to see if the state police can carry on the same investigation impartially,” a bench of Justices Aniruddha Bose and Vikram Nath said.
The top court also stayed the order of the Calcutta High Court directing annulment of appointment of 269 candidates as teachers. It directed each of these 269 individuals to file affidavits to defend their appointment to the said posts and asked the appointing authority to examine legality of their appointments. “The CBI under the SIT shall continue their investigation as directed by the Single Judge and file a comprehensive report before this Court within a period of four weeks as regards progress of the investigation.
“The order passed directing cancellation of 269 candidates by the Single Judge on June 13, 2022 and the part of the order of the Division Bench confirming that order shall stand stayed and remain in abeyance,” the bench said. The apex court directed the CBI to file a comprehensive report with regard to the scope and nature of illegalities they have found in the recruitment process. With regard to the removal order of Dr Manik Bhattacharya from his official position of the West Bengal Board of Primary Education president, the top court stayed the high court directive until further orders.
A division bench of the Calcutta High Court had on September 2 upheld an order of its single bench that directed the CBI to investigate the alleged irregularities in the appointment of primary teachers in West Bengal government-sponsored and -aided schools. The high court had also refused to interfere with the order removing Manik Bhattacharya from his official position.
The petitioners before the single bench alleged that although they appeared for Teachers Eligibility Test (TET) -2014, no list containing the marks of candidates and indicating their respective merit positions was ever published and that an additional panel of 273 candidates was prepared illegally, who were granted one additional mark out of over 20 lakh candidates who appeared for the test. It was claimed that by dint of this one additional mark, 269 candidates got qualified for the job of teachers and subsequently got appointed.