करंट टॉपिक्स

Calcutta High Court dismisses State’s plea against transferring probe to CBI, ED

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Kolkata. Calcutta High Court on Friday dismissed the review application filed by West Bengal government against the order passed by the High Court, transferring probe in the school jobs for cash scam, to the CBI and ED.

Single-judge Justice Amrita Sinha said, “The review application is dismissed. You may get the detailed order on the High Court website.”

The State had filed the plea challenging the order passed by Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay, when he was seized of the matter.

However, following his interview with a Bengali news channel in which he had made statements against TMC’s Abhishek Banerjee who is also being probed in the matter, the case was reassigned to Justice Sinha pursuant to the order of the Supreme Court.

Justice Gangopadhyay was initially seized of cases regarding the school jobs for cash scam. However, during the investigations by the CBI and ED, the officers unearthed a similar recruitment scam in various municipalities across the State. In this case, the judge had ordered CBI and ED to probe.

The State objected to this particular order of CBI and ED probe in the recruitment scam in municipalities. It contended that at the relevant time period, Justice Gangopadhyay was seized of only education matters and not cases related to municipalities and therefore, he was not entitled to pass the said order in question and also did not have a jurisdiction to pass the same.

The order under review was passed on a plea filed by ED highlighting the fact that one of the arrested accused Kuntal Ghosh had made some frivolous allegations against the probe officers. The central agency, thus sought protection from any kind of police action against its officers.

Justice Sinha noted that application by the ED had to be moved on urgent basis in view of the extraordinary circumstances under which the investigation was proceeding.

“There is every probability of tampering evidence, terrorising/influencing the witnesses resulting in interference with the process of investigation. No prejudice has been caused to the State by directing the CBI and ED to probe the matter as these agencies are already investigating the scam relating to recruitment in educational institutions and the investigation has proceeded to a considerable extent. There ought not to be separate investigating authorities for investigating the connected offence which has come to light in course of the investigation,” Justice Sinha held.

In the detailed order, the judge took note of the status report on the investigation conducted by the ED in connection with the primary teachers’ recruitment scam, which was placed before Justice Gangopadhyay.

“The report records that several crore of rupees, documents/electronic evidences were seized from several high ranking officials of the government including the Minister-in-Charge of Education, Member of the Legislative Assembly and ex-President of the West Bengal Board of Primary Education, several persons in the Bengali film industry and other highly influential politicians and individuals,” the judge noted.

During the course of investigation, the investigating agency got the lead that several persons involved in the scam relating to recruitment in schools, are also involved in the scam relating to recruitment in the municipalities. The proceeds of crime in the two set of offences, one in the schools and the other in the municipalities, are intermingled with each other, Justice Sinha noted.

The investigation by the ED and the CBI has proceeded to a fair extent and at this stage it will be highly improper to allow some other investigating agency to conclude the investigation, the judge opined.

“The figures mentioned in the status report are mind boggling. Several high ranking officials of the State involved in the scam are behind the bars at present and the investigating agencies are proceeding to identify the others involved in the crime. The connecting crime that has been unearthed recently, appears to be a part of the entire big scam relating to job in-lieu-of cash either in the schools or in the municipalities,” the judge observed.

The bench further said that the State and all its departments should not challenge the probe by ED and CBI but must instead cooperate with the investigation.

“The same will in return ensure to the advantage of the State authorities in identifying the persons involved in the racket of job in-lieu-of cash and the administration of the State may continue smoothly. The State authorities ought to actively assist the investigating authorities currently handling the matter, so as to free the State from the illegalities in the process of recruitment in various departments of the State,” the judge opined.

With these observations, the bench dismissed the review plea.

Input Courtesy – Bar&Bench


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