Calcutta High Court asks minister Partha Chatterjee to appear before CBI

Controversial appointments of teachers in state-aided institutions.

The Calcutta High Court on Wednesday asked West Bengal minister Partha Chatterjee to appear before the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) by 6 pm in connection with controversial appointments of teachers in state-aided schools on recommendations of the School Service Commission.

Chatterjee, currently the state Information Technology minister, was in charge of the state education department when the appointments took place. There are speculations that if Chatterjee fails to appear before the CBI, he could be taken into custody. Reportedly, the minister is planning to move court against the order.

A bench headed by Justice Abhijit Bandopadhyay had directed Chatterjee to appear before the CBI. Justice Bandopadhyay, according to some reports, hoped that the senior minister would resign from his position. Earlier, a division bench of the Calcutta High Court upheld orders of a single bench that had directed the CBI to inquire into illegal appointments by the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education.  The division bench of Justices Subrata Talukder and AK Mukherjee said that the single bench of Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay was not wrong in ordering a probe. They termed the irregularities as a public scam.

The division bench said that the orders of the single bench required no intervention. The single bench had ordered then state education minister Partha Chatterjee to appear before the CBI, and held that a five-member committee to oversee the appointment process for a 2016 panel for recruitment of teachers for classes 9 and 10 and group C and D staff in government-aided colleges was illegal. These orders had earlier been stayed by the division bench on a series of appeals. The division bench accepted the recommendations of the Justice RK Bag Committee calling for prosecution of the then senior officials connected to the scam.

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