SSC scam in Bengal: How RTI was used to hike marks, ranks of unsuccessful candidates

The federal agency was ordered by the Calcutta high court earlier this week to probe the alleged irregularities in the state School Service Commission. The agency has already quizzed former education minister and senior TMC leader Partha Chatterjee on Wednesday.
West Bengal Police personnel try to reason with members of the All India Democratic Youth Organisation (AIDYO) and All India Democratic Students' Organisation (AIDSO) during their protest march towards Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's residence over state ministers' involvement in the SSC recruitment scam in Kolkata on Friday. (PTI PHOTO.)
West Bengal Police personnel try to reason with members of the All India Democratic Youth Organisation (AIDYO) and All India Democratic Students' Organisation (AIDSO) during their protest march towards Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's residence over state ministers' involvement in the SSC recruitment scam in Kolkata on Friday. (PTI PHOTO.)
Published on May 21, 2022 06:30 PM IST
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Kolkata: Applications filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act were used to increase the marks of unsuccessful candidates so that their recruitment, as group C staff in state-run schools could, be justified, officers of the Central Bureau of Investigation have found, while probing the alleged recruitment scam in state-run and government-aided schools in West Bengal.

“The marks of unsuccessful candidates were increased based upon their application under the RTI Act, by way of re-evaluation of their OMR sheets,” the CBI has stated in its first FIR in connection with the alleged scam in recruitment of group C staff.

This is the first FIR lodged by the CBI in the case after the Calcutta High Court asked it to probe the scam following a petition by some of the students who made it to the merit list but were not appointed as teachers.

The federal agency was ordered by the Calcutta high court earlier this week to probe the alleged irregularities in the state School Service Commission. The agency has already quizzed former education minister and senior TMC leader Partha Chatterjee on Wednesday.

Chatterjee, who is an incumbent cabinet minister, has been called for a second round of questioning next week. The Calcutta high court has ordered that Chatterjee be made a respondent in the ongoing case. The court has also directed him to submit details of his assets.

In the FIR, the federal agency has named five members of a panel set up after Chatterjee that allowed revaluation on the basis of RTI applications. The names include SP Sinha, convenor of the panel and advisor to the SSC, Saumitra Sarkar, chairman of the panel and Kalyanmoy Ganguly, president of the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education among others. Chatterjee has not been named.

“The constitution of this committee (five-member panel) was in violation of the School Service Commission Act, 1997,” said the FIR.

They have been charged with section 120b, 417, 465, 468 and 34 of the India Penal Code and other sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act. The sections relate to criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery for the purpose of cheating out of common intention and offences relating to public servant being bribed.

Even though Chatterjee faced the CBI for the first time on Wednesday, the agency has already questioned Sinha, Sarkar and other members of the panel multiple times.

A senior CBI officer said that fabricated note sheets were issued on the instructions of Sinha and Sarkar among others to increase the marks and upgrade ranks against the RTI applications.

The CBI’S FIR also states that accused persons prepared fictitious memos of regionaI commissions by using scanned signatures of the chairpersons of those regionaI commissions in absence of their knowledge.

“On the basis of those recommendations, appointment letters were issued bypassing the normal chain of hierarchy and without sending those recommendation letters to the appointment section of board of secondary education and without notifying the names of the candidates in the website of CentraI Commission for verification of testimonials and for collection of appointment letters on the notified date. Thus, the deserving genuine candidates were debarred from getting the said regular salaried jobs even after expiry of the panel,” says the FIR.

The enquiry committee, set up by the Calcutta high court, headed by retired high court judge Justice Ranjit Kumar Bagh also found that the RTI route was taken to allegedly increase the marks and ranks of unsuccessful candidates.

“RTI was at the root of the scam. The ground work of the entire scam had started just after the expiry of the five-member government-mandated panel. Under the garb of RTI applications OMR sheets were false reevaluated and marks of ineligible candidates were increased and their ranks were upgraded,” said Arunava Banerjee, a member of the Justice Bagh Committee.

The committee has already submitted its finding in the high court. It was found that more than 1,000 candidates were recruited as non-teaching staff allegedly through unscrupulous means in just group C and D.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Joydeep Thakur is a Special Correspondent based in Kolkata. He focuses on science, environment, wildlife, agriculture and other related issues.

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