NEW DELHI: In a setback to the West Bengal government, the Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the CBI to continue with its investigation in the primary teachers recruitment scam which came as a major embarassment to the TMC government with the arrest of then Education Minister Partha Chatterjee and recovery of crores of illicit money.
A bench of Justices Aniruddha Bose and Vikram Nath, however, stayed the Calcutta High Court's order directing removal of current TMC MLA and then President of the West Bengal Board of Primary Education Dr Manik Bhattacharya.
The court also suspended the High Court's order which had cancelled appointment of 269 candidates, after noting, "no material has been placed showing their direct complicity in the process of appointment".
"What weighed with the single judge in directing their termination in a case where they were not even the parties appears to be materials that was revealed in response to orders of the court. Such orders reflect some kind of investigative role that was being undertaken by the court itself in obtaining documents from the recruiting bodies. It was also not a case the respective appointments were of very recent origin," the bench said.
On a petition filed by Bhattacharya, the apex court suspended the order removing him from the post but did not direct his reinstatement.
It noted that the order removing him was "flawed" for not fulfilling the requirements of procedural fairness as he was not heard by the High Court.
"At this stage, we are not directing his reinstatement in the same post. We have been apprised that the state government itself has already engaged someone as the President of the Board. We accordingly hold that the present incumbent to the post shall continue till final outcome of the writ petition," the bench said.
Even as the bench protected Bhattacharya from any coercive action in the CBI case, it was informed that he has been arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on October 12 in a separate money laundering case.
The top court issued notice to the petitioners before the High Court and also asked the CBI to file a comprehensive status report on investigation in the scam within four weeks.
The High Court had ordered setting up of the SIT, comprising senior officers of the CBI to investigate the scam in the recruitment, which took place through the Teachers Eligibility Test (TET) examination 2014, held in the year 2015. Altogether 23 lakh candidates participated in the selection process for filling up approximately 43,000 vacancies and about 40,000 candidates were finally appointed.