The irregular appointment of as many as 381 candidates in Group C posts in West Bengal’s government schools has verily opened a pretty kettle of fish. It must rank as one of the worst job scams in recent memory.
The startling details would not have been disclosed were it not for the report crafted by a Calcutta High Court-appointed committee, headed by a former judge. The bare details of the fiddle, as presented to the court on Friday, point to a case of calibrated corruption.
Distinctly arbitrary was the appointment of the candidates. They were picked after the duration of the panel of shortlisted candidates expired on 18 May 2019.
The report, that was presented to the Division Bench of Justice Subrata Talukdar and Justice Ananda Mukherjee, has highlighted the blatant irregularity, which could not have happened without a wink from on high, specifically the school education department.
Having failed to clear the eligibility test, which was held in 2016, these candidates had not even met the primary requirement of appearing in interviews.
The 400-page report, prepared by a committee headed by Justice Ranjit Kumar Bag, a retired High Court judge, states that a former chairman of the advisory committee formed for the selection process, Shanti Prasad Sinha, and the president of the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education, Kalyanmoy Ganguly, were “key persons behind the foul play”. Parts of the report were read out in the High Court on Friday.
Notably, Sinha used to go to Ganguly with the appointment letters and get them signed by him. However incredible as it might sound, the signed letters were then handed over to the candidates. Thus was the scam formalized, so to speak. The committee has recommended that FIRs be filed against Sinha and four other members of the advisory committee.
Almost every rule in the book was flouted, and the accused have been charged under IPC sections 407 (criminal breach of trust), 465 (forgery for the purpose of cheating) and 84 (common intention). The committee suspects that some senior officials of the School Service Commission “seem to be part of the recruitment scam”. Departmental proceedings have been recommended against several others on charges of violating SSC recruitment rules.
The report says there was no legal sanction for a five-member recruitment committee that was formed by the then education minister, Partha Chatterjee.
The committee was not brought within the purview of the probe panel. The recommendations have been accepted by the Division Bench of Justice Talukdar and Justice Mukherjee. On closer reflection, the entire process of selection of personnel and Group C staff has been irregular.