Teacher behind bars for laptop bribe

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By Staff Reporter
  • Published 19.05.10

Sanjay Smart, a La Martiniere for Boys teacher accused of demanding a laptop as bribe to promote a Class IV student, was arrested late on Monday and remanded in cop custody.

“According to the complainant, the teacher had demanded a laptop and had been provided with a desktop computer. To recover the desktop and for the sake of further investigation, the accused teacher has been remanded in police custody till May 28,” said public prosecutor Basudeb Dutta.

Smart was arrested under sections 506 (criminal intimidation), 384 (extortion) and 109 (abetment of any offence) of the Indian Penal Code and produced in Bankshall court on Tuesday afternoon.

School principal Sunirmal Chakravarthi, who has also been named as a “primary accused” in the case, was not available for comment on Tuesday and his office said “he was on leave”.

Supriyo Dhar, the secretary (officiating) of the La Martiniere School for Boys, told Metro: “The school will take appropriate action against Smart once all the charges against him are proved. An internal investigation is on. We will be able to complete the investigation once we are able to interrogate Smart who was absconding for a long time.”

But hasn’t the school found Smart prima facie guilty? “We cannot elaborate on the matter because the child’s father has filed a writ petition in the high court and the matter is sub-judice. The next hearing is on June 9 when we will explain our position,” said Dhar.

Partha Pratim Banerjee, the father of 10-year-old Srijan, had filed an FIR with Shakespeare Sarani police station on April 2, accusing Smart of persecuting his son after being refused a laptop as bribe.

The teacher had apparently texted his demand to Banerjee: “Can you give me a laptop with Internet connection, I will be in constant touch with you and I can provide exam question papers.” Banerjee, fearing that Smart would target his son, sent him a second-hand desktop “but that did not satisfy him”. Srijan was twice detained in Class IV.

“A few teachers, including the principal, are involved in an extortion racket. The arrest of Sanjay Smart has vindicated my stand,” said Banerjee, who works with a private cellular company.

“The law must take its course, but it’s been over a month and my son has not been allowed to go to school. He is desperate to return to class, but the school only seems interested in ousting him and saving the teacher,” alleged Banerjee.

The father has filed a writ petition in the high court accusing the school of violating the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009. The Council for Indian School Certificate Examinations, the state government, the school principal and some teachers have been made party to the case. The act prohibits schools from detaining students till Class VIII.

Smart had filed for anticipatory bail in the city sessions court and the high court, but both were rejected. He was arrested late on Monday from 55 JL Nehru Road (opposite Rotary Sadan), drawing cries of “shame” from the city’s teaching community.

“It’s a shame that some teachers have become such mercenaries,” said a veteran English teacher in a reputable south Calcutta school. “This is not an isolated incident. Rackets are operating in many schools. Parents should never give in to such pressure tactics from unscrupulous teachers,” said a former teacher of La Martiniere for Boys.