Calcutta HC orders removal of Bengal primary education board chairman

The Calcutta High Court on Monday ordered immediate removal of West Bengal Board of Primary Education (WBBPE) chairman Manik Bhattacharya from his post in connection with alleged irregularities in the recruitment of teachers for government primary schools.

The single-judge bench of Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay also directed Bhattacharya to appear in person in the court on Tuesday. The judge authorised the state government to arrange his replacement. The judge also ruled that during the interim period, Bhattacharya’s responsibilities will be handled by WBBPE secretary Ratna Chakraborty Bagchi.

The petitioners’ lawyer Firdous Shamim said, “The court said that Manik Bhattacharya cannot remain the education board president. The government will find his replacement. Bhattacharya has been asked to appear in the court tomorrow.”

On June 13, Justice Gangopadhyay had ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the alleged irregularities in the recruitment of primary teachers by the WBBPE in 2014.

The judge had also ordered immediate cancellation of the appointment of 269 candidates for the posts. Two days later, Justice Gangopadhyay modified his earlier order and ordered that a special investigation team (SIT) be set up for conducting a probe into the primary teachers’ recruitment scam. He also said that the SIT members should not be assigned other cases and also not be transferred till the probe is completed.

The CBI on June 17 submitted names of the six SIT members to the High Court. The same day, the agency submitted the first status report on the progress of its investigation in the case.

Bhattacharya has already appeared before the CBI that interrogated him over his alleged involvement in the case. On June 16, the West Bengal government had approached a division bench, headed by Justice Subrata Talukdar, challenging the order for CBI inquiry in the matter by Justice Gangopadhyay.

The division bench is likely to hear the matter on Tuesday.

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