As a part of the SSC scam, Rs. 20 crore was recovered. After which the former Education Minister of West Bengal Partha Chatterjee was arrested.
On Saturday, 23rd July, West Bengal’s former Education Minister Partha Chatterjee who was linked to the SSC teacher recruitment scam, was arrested. Chatterjee was part of the Trinamool Congress government led by Mamata Banerjee.
The arrest was made simply a day after the Enforcement Directorate recovered Rs. 20 crore in cash. The cash was found within small-time actor Arpita Mukherjee’s residential premises. The Enforcement Directorate interrogated the Trinamool Congress minister for an entire 11 hours until the arrest was finally made.
What is the Teacher Recruitment scam?
In 2014, the West Bengal government administered the State Level Selection Test (SLST). They then issued a notification for the appointment of new teachers in the state government schools. Thereafter, the recruitment process began in around 2016.
Consequently, under the suspicion of discrepancies visible in the recruitment process, the people filed a number of petitions in the Calcutta High Court. Chaterjee was at the time the state education minister from 2014 to 2021. This was the time the scam was taking place.
Scam allegations made by petitioners.
As per the petitions in the Calcutta High Court, the petitioners made a lot of allegations regarding the scam. Primarily, the petitions alleged that many students who scored far lesser ranked much higher in the merit list. Further, it stated that students who weren’t even on the merit list, still received appointment letters.
Consequently, in 2016, as per the West Bengal Government 13,000 ‘Group – D’ employees for government aided schools were to be hired. However, the petitioners alleged that at least 25 people were hired in 2019. This was when the panel making the appointments had already expired. They stated that over 500 people were hired after the expiration of the SSC panel. These people were now salaried employees of the government.
Scam allegations made by CBI.
The Central Bureau of Investigation stated that in 2014, the process of selecting in the teacher eligibility test was tampered. This was done in order to put deserving candidates at a disadvantage.
The Bureau also mentioned that though candidates who failed the TETs or were ineligible to qualify, they were still appointed as assistant teachers. Some candidates even had the full confidence to leave the answer sheets blank with only personal details. These candidates too received positions as Assistant Teachers.
CBI interrogates Partha Chaterjee.
CBI brought in current West Bengal Minister for Industries and Commerce (former education minister) Partha Banerjee. CBI then went on to interrogate Banerjee on the 18th of May and again on the 25th of May.
As Banerjee was the education minister at the time of the scam, he was entangled in the whole ordeal. Therefore, as per directions of Justice Gangopadhyay, CBI questioned him. He was arrested on 23rd July when Rs. 20 crore was recovered after the raid.
Raids were conducted at several places including the residences of other ministers named in the scam. The Rs. 20 crore was found at actor and associate of Banerjee, Arpita Mukherjee’s residence after which she too was arrested.
The Politicians react.
The political reactions with regards to the scam differ from the Trinamool Congress party leaders to the BJP leaders. As per the current ruling party– Trinamool Congress, the raids were characterized as a “ploy” by the BJP government. They also mention the opposing party’s wish to “harass”.
The BJP party however, took no responsibility for the “harassment” allegations. They stated that the CBI and the ED were both advancing in the right direction. Further they also mentioned that soon “more skeletons” will fall out of the closet.