A division bench of Calcutta High Court on Wednesday issued a three-week interim stay on a CBI probe order by a single judge into the alleged irregularities in recruitment of Group-D staff in several schools across the state.
The division bench of Justice Harish Tandon and Justice Rabindranath Samanta said the CBI cannot conduct any probe in this case within these three weeks.
Single bench judge Justice Abhijit Gangopadhay had on Monday ordered the CBI probe and asked both the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education and the School Service Commission (SSC) to hand over documents relevant to the recruitment of 25 Group-D staff over to the central agency on or before 4pm on Wednesday.
The division bench, in its interim order on Wednesday, asked the board and the commission to submit the documents with the registrar general of the high court in sealed covers and said that the documents would be in court custody till further orders.
The division bench decided to hear the case in details from November 29.
A point raised by the state’s advocate-general S.N. Mookh-erjee prompted the division bench to stay the probe order.
Mookherjee argued that the single bench did not give the opportunity to argue why his client had reservations about the CBI probe order.
The advocate-general said: “Neither the state nor the commission and board had objected to a judicial investigation. All the parties had argued that one former judge or three formers judges of this court may be entrusted with the job. It was because the people of state have had a bitter experience about the recent role of the CBI, which has turned to a puppet of some influential persons of the country and serves their purposes only…. The agency has lost its credibility.”
Appearing for the commission, advocate Kishore Datta said the even the petitioners had not demanded a CBI.
At this point, the advocate-general said: “Since the petitioner did not lodge a complaint, the state police did not get the opportunity to probe the issue. Then how could the single bench judge came to the conclusion that the issue would not be fairly investigated by a state agency?”
Initially, on Wednesday, the senior advocate for the petitioners, Bikash Rajan Bhattacharyya, said his clients were in favour of a CBI probe.
However, when the court was about to pass the interim stay order, Bhattacharyya changed his position and said the court could also appoint a former judge to probe the case instead of the CBI.
Justice Tandon said: “But previously you were demanding a CBI probe?” The stay followed.
Four different petitions were filed before the court alleging that at least 25 persons had got Group-D jobs in secondary schools even after the expiry of a panel drawn up in 2016.
Following those petitions, Justice Gangopadhyay had sought affidavits from the commission and the board. In their affidavits, both claimed that they did not recommend any names for the appointments after the earlier panel had lapsed on May 4, 2019.
Earlier, during the hearing of the case, Bhattacharyya had claimed that at least 500 other candidates had been similarly appointed.
The judge had asked the petitioners to find the whereabouts of these 500 and make them parties to the case.