The CBI on Friday took custody of former education minister Partha Chatterjee in connection with the alleged irregularities in recruitments to Group C posts in government-aided schools.
Chatterjee, who was in judicial custody at Presidency jail in connection with a money laundering case being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), will be in the CBI custody at Nizam Palace till at least September 21.
The CBI said Chatterjee was the “mastermind of the recruitment scam” and that they needed to examine him in the presence of other accused in custody.
When Chatterjee was brought to the Alipore court, he was greeted with shouts of “chor-chor (thief-thief)” from a group of men and women who had gathered outside the court.
Later, Chatterjee submitted before the magistrate:
“What is my role (in the alleged irregularities)? They (other officials) have deleted documents, but how am I involved? I am an MBA. I am a doctorate with an unblemished career as a public servant. This is a conspiracy to keep me behind bars. I am very ill. I take a lot of medicines. Who will help me?” Chatterjee broke down in the court as he spoke.
“I have faith in your justice. Please deliver justice according to your understanding,” he said.
Kalyanmoy Ganguly, former president of the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education; Shantipada Sinha, former chairman of the advisory committee of the school service commission (SSC); and Ashok Saha, a former secretary of the SSC were earlier arrested in connection with the case.
“Keeping the magnitude and gravity of the case in mind, we want to examine him (Chatterjee) for more details,” a CBI officer said.
Chatterjee’s lawyer said this was a ploy by the ED and the CBI to keep his client in custody.
The statutory period for the ED to file its final report will end soon, after which Chatterjee would have got bail, the lawyer, Sk. Salim Rahman, said.
Rahman added the school service commission was an autonomous body and even if there were any lapses, the minister in charge was not supposed to have direct knowledge of that.
“It has to be proved in court that the minister either had knowledge of the irregularities or had direct involvement in the matter. But there is no such proof,” Rahman said.
The lawyer said that as Chatterjee was already in judicial custody, there was no question of him running away.
After hearing both sides, the court ordered the CBI to take Chatterjee’s custody till September 21.
Ganguly, who was arrested on Thursday and produced before the same court on Friday, has also been remanded in CBI custody till September 21.