West Bengal

"Convinced That Teachers' Recruitment Scam And Municipal Scam Linked": SC Observes While Rejecting Bengal Govt's Plea

Nishtha Anushree

Aug 21, 2023, 06:00 PM | Updated Aug 22, 2023, 02:29 PM IST

Supreme Court, Enforcement Directorate logo
Supreme Court, Enforcement Directorate logo
  • "We are convinced that the teachers' recruitment scam and the municipal recruitment scam are interconnected," said CJI.
  • "ED's jurisdiction doesn't apply here," said Kapil Sibal representing West Bengal government.
  • On Monday, the Supreme Court dismissed the West Bengal government's request to contest the Calcutta High Court's directive. The directive had called for an investigation into irregularities related to municipality recruitment by both the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

    Heading a bench, Chief Justice DY Chandrachud dismissed the plea, affirming, "We are convinced that the teachers' recruitment scam and the municipal recruitment scam are interconnected... There was some wrongdoing."

    It should be noted that Mamata Banerjee's nephew and TMC leader Abhishek Banerjee has been named in the chargesheet of teachers' recruitment scam.

    During the arguments, Additional Solicitor General SV Raju, representing the investigating agency, conveyed to the bench that Rs 350 crores had changed hands due to the appointment of undeserving candidates as teachers.

    The ASG added, "Manik Bhattacharyya was also involved. We are probing the teachers' recruitment scam. Many OMR sheets were destroyed. Rs 5 crores in money and jewelry were uncovered, and the education minister was apprehended."

    In response to these assertions, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal countered, "ED's jurisdiction doesn't apply here. They are concerned with money laundering. They summon officers and indicate that statements under Section 50 PMLA will be recorded."

    Chief Justice Chandrachud interjected, "However, the CBI investigation has concluded by now, and substantial time has elapsed since the May order. How can we assert there was insufficient evidence before the High Court? It's apparent that the municipal recruitment and teachers' recruitment scams are intertwined, as the same individual was preparing the OMR sheets."

    Furthermore, the West Bengal government filed a petition to challenge the interim order dated 22 May 2023, issued by the Division Bench of the Calcutta High Court. This order denied interim relief in terms of staying the Order dated 21 April, issued by Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay, which was subsequently modified by the Judgment of 12 May, issued by Justice Amrita Sinha.

    "The Impugned order, while failing to grant a stay on the investigation conducted by the CBI and ED relating to the alleged Municipality recruitment scam, has also proceeded to ignore the law laid down by this Court in a catena of cases," the plea stated.

    "The Impugned Order passed by Division Bench allowing the investigation by CBI and ED is a feeble attempt to overreach the orders passed by this Court with impunity and to cast aspersions on the State Government, in a proceeding where no opportunity has been given to the State to investigate the alleged offense, thereby usurping their powers, in a cavalier manner," the government's plea further emphasised.

    In the previous month, the ED informed the Calcutta High Court that it would not initiate any "coercive" measures, such as arrest, against Abhishek Banerjee until 31 July, as part of their ongoing inquiry.

    The CBI and ED are currently investigating Abhishek Banerjee's alleged involvement in irregularities regarding the recruitment of teaching and non-teaching personnel in government schools across West Bengal. This recruitment scandal revolves around the hiring of numerous teachers within Bengal's educational system back in 2016.

    A series of petitions were presented in the High Court, citing irregularities in the recruitment process, and the court addressed several of these cases.

    Note: An earlier version of this news piece mentioned Abhishek Banerjee in the context of the municipality recruitment scam. This was incorrect. Banerjee is an accused in the separate teacher recruitment scam probe. The error is regretted and has been corrected.

    Nishtha Anushree is Senior Sub-editor at Swarajya. She tweets at @nishthaanushree.

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