The Calcutta High Court on Wednesday ordered a CBI probe into the alleged destruction of OMR answer sheets of candidates who appeared in the Teacher Eligibility Test (TET) in 2014.
The single bench of Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay directed the central agency to investigate as why and how the answer sheets were destroyed without following the statutory process. The questioning of former West Bengal Board of Primary Education (WBBPE) president Manik Bhattacharya was “extremely important” in this connection, the HC observed.
Nearly 20 lakh candidates had appeared for the TET in 2014, following which the recruitment of primary teachers was conducted in 2016 and 2020. Bhattacharya, a Trinamool Congress (TMC) MLA, was the president of the primary board during that period.
Also, Justice Gangopadhyay directed Bhattacharya to appear before the agency by 8pm on Tuesday in connection with the allegations of irregularities in the recruitment of teachers. The judge ordered that the agency could take Bhattacharya in its custody for interrogation if he failed to appear within the
Later in the day, the former WBBPE president moved the Supreme Court that restrained the CBI from taking any coercive step, including arrest, against him for for the next 24 hours.
As the hearing could not be completed in the apex court due to time constraint, the matter was placed for hearing on Wednesday.
Following the Supreme Court order, Bhattacharyadid not appear before the CBI at its Nizam Palace office in Kolkata on Tuesday evening.
Bhattacharya left his residence in Kolkata at 8:30 am for New Delhi, it was learnt.
In June, the same bench had ordered the removal of Bhattacharya from the post of the primary board president after which the state government replaced him. Bhattacharya approached the Supreme Court challenging the order.
Reacting to Calcutta HC order, BJP spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya said, “It is clear that Bhattacharya played an important role in the teachers’ recruitment scam. He should be questioned for his involvement in the scam.”
In a statement, TMC state general secretary Kunal Ghosh said other parties were indulging in politics over the recruitment controversy.
“We have come across numerous allegations of corruption and mismanagement during the Left Front government’s tenure in Bengal. Teachers were exploited and jobs were given to party cadres then. We also know what is going on in the BJP-ruled states. In Madhya Pradesh, there was the Vyapam scam, but nothing significant was done,” said Ghosh.
“Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and party general secretary Abhishek Banerjee are concerned about all the protesting TET and SSC candidates. We request them to wait for the court’s verdict so that action can be taken at the earliest,” he added.