West Bengal school recruitment scam explained | #phishing | #scams


West Bengal minister Partha Chatterjee and his close aide, Arpita Mukherjee, were taken into custody by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Saturday, July 23, 2022 in connection with an alleged recruitment scam for teachers in the state.

Here’s everything you need to know about the alleged scam.

What is the teacher recruitment scam?

The alleged scam that is currently being jointly investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the ED pertains to irregularities in the recruitment of Group C and Group D staff and teachers in government-run and aided schools in West Bengal.

It dates back to 2014 when a notification for the appointment of teachers through the State Level Selection Test (SLST) was issued. Recruitment, however, began two years later in 2016, when Partha Chatterjee was the Minister-in-Charge of the Higher Education and School Education Department in West Bengal.

Soon after recruitment began, petitions began to be filed in the Calcutta High Court alleging irregularities in the process. 

According to The Indian Express, “The petitioners alleged that many examinees who got less marks ranked high in the merit list. There were also allegations that some applicants, who weren’t even in the merit list, received appointment letters.”

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Further, in a second but related case, the state government in 2016 issued a notification to the School Service Commission (SSC) for the recruitment of 13,000 Group D staff in government-run or aided schools. The tenure of the panel responsible for said recruitment expired in 2019, but several petitions alleged that recruitment had taken place despite the expiration of the panel’s tenure.

According to petitions submitted to the Calcutta High Court, at least 25 such appointments took place through the SSC. Later, petitioners claimed that as many as 500 people had been appointed illegally, according to The Indian Express.

Additionally, India Today reported that the CBI has alleged that question papers and answer keys were designed dubiously to aid the fraudulent recruitment process and deprive eligible candidates for the advertised vacancies.

“It is further alleged some of the TET-fail [Teacher Eligibility Test-fail] and/or ineligible candidates of TET 2014 got appointments as Assistant teachers in primary schools. A number of ineligible candidates who did not answer the question by answering the MCQ and submitted blank exam papers only mentioning their personal details got appointments as Assistant Teachers,” the publication reported.

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Where does the investigation stand now?

While the CBI is probing the criminal aspect of the alleged recruitment scam, the ED is investigating the money laundering aspects.

Saturday’s arrests saw the ED seize more than Rs 20 crore in cash from Mukherjee’s residence, which is believed to be the proceeds of the alleged recruitment scam. The ED also recovered 22 mobile phones from Mukherjee’s residence, which are being examined for evidence.

Chatterjee, meanwhile, has already been interrogated by the CBI twice, and is currently in ED custody for questioning, despite being hospitalised late on Saturday evening. He is slated to be produced before a Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court on Monday.

While Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has thus far refrained from commenting on the arrest of Chatterjee, a top lieutenant, TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh has made it clear that the party will take action in the event Chatterjee is found guilty.
 



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