Wed. Jun 19th, 2024

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KOLKATA: Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay of Calcutta HC asked CBI in an open courtroom hearing on Wednesday whether the agency could “investigate” a former Supreme Court judge as he “must have had some understanding with Manik Bhattacharya” — an arrested accused in an ongoing probe into the Bengal primary teacher recruitment scam.
The SC judge retired earlier this year. As a judge in an SC division bench, he had stayed Justice Gangopadhyay’s previous order directing CBI and ED to probe Bhattacharya, the former chief of West Bengal Board of Primary Education.
“Matters (relating to the case) have not yet come up for hearing (in SC). The culprits are taking advantage. I beseech you to mention the matter to the CJI,” Justice Gangopadhyay told CBI special investigation team head Ashwin Shenvi.
He also instructed the state chief secretary to inform the CM that no state authority should obstruct the ongoing investigations by CBI and ED in the bribe-for-job case. The HC directed the state not to interfere with the CBI SIT’s work without court approval.
“It is very unfortunate that the special CBI court, Alipore, allowed Kolkata police to interrogate SIT members,” he observed, while directing the immediate transfer of CBI special court judge Arpan Chatterjee after CBI SIT head Shenvi complained of interference in the probe.
Justice Gangopadhyay summoned state law minister Moloy Ghatak to the court and directed him to appoint a new CBI special court judge by October 6. He passed the directive after judicial secretary Siddhartha Kanjilal submitted to the court on Wednesday that Arpan Chatterjee was continuing as judge because the file for the new appointment was lying with law minister Ghatak.
The law minister informed the court that he was in hospital and could not clear the file. “I have recovered now. I will go through the file and clear it without delay,” he said.
CBI counsel Billwadal Bhattacharya informed the court that the investigating agency had produced four people as witnesses in the primary teacher recruitment case, but the CBI court refused to recognise them as witnesses, sending them to judicial custody instead. “We have questioned several people in the OMR sheet scam. No one is now willing to talk fearing they would be sent to jail,” the CBI counsel said.
Justice Gangopadhyay ruled that those willing to testify under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code could not be arrested. People allegedly involved in job-related corruption who agreed to appear as witnesses would receive protection from arrest or jail remand, the court said.
Justice Gangopadhyay also instructed CBI to submit a report on S Basu Roy & Company, a firm responsible for handling the teacher eligibility test (TET) OMR sheets, by October 18.
CBI received orders in May 2022 to investigate the recruitment of non-teaching staff (Group C and D) as well as teachers for primary schools between 2014 and 2021, following allegations of widespread bribery during the hiring process.r



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