WB recruitment scam: ED files 14,000-page charge sheet against Partha Chatterjee | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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WB recruitment scam: ED files 14,000-page charge sheet against Partha Chatterjee

Sep 19, 2022 06:20 PM IST

The mammoth 14,000-page set of documents contained details of 35 bank accounts, 40 immovable properties, 31 life insurance policies and 201 shell companies that are under the scanner

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Monday filed its first charge sheet against former West Bengal education minister Partha Chatterjee and his aide Arpita Mukherjee in the alleged teacher’s recruitment scam case, officials in the federal agency confirmed.

Former West Bengal minister Partha Chatterjee being produced at the Alipore Court by the CBI in connection with the alleged teacher’s recruitment scam. (ANI Photo)
Former West Bengal minister Partha Chatterjee being produced at the Alipore Court by the CBI in connection with the alleged teacher’s recruitment scam. (ANI Photo)

In the documents filed at Kolkata’s Bankshall court, the ED said that it has so far traced cash, jewellery and immovable property worth 103.10 crore linked to the duo.

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The mammoth 14,000-page set of documents contained details of 35 bank accounts, 40 immovable properties, 31 life insurance policies and 201 shell companies that are under the scanner. All documents related to the investigation were submitted to the court in four sealed steel trunks.

Chatterjee formed numerous shell companies to launder bribes paid by ineligible candidates in return for jobs in state-run schools during his tenure as education minister between 2014 and 2021, the charge sheet claimed, adding that unemployed and poor people were made directors of shell companies against salaries ranging between 5000 and 10,000.

“Eight people, including Chatterjee and Mukherjee, have been named in the charge sheet, which was filed on the 58th day since their arrest. Statements of 43 witnesses have also been submitted to the court,” one of the lawyers representing the ED said.

The ED said that it has provisionally attached properties worth 48.22 crore, consisting of 40 immovable properties valued at 40.33 crore, and 35 bank accounts having a balance of 7.89 crore. “The attached properties include flats, a farmhouse, prime land in the city of Kolkata and bank balance,” the statement said.

Also Read:ED seizes 40 immovable properties, 35 bank accounts of Partha Chatterjee, Arpita

In a parallel development on Monday, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which was ordered by the Calcutta high court in May to probe the case, arrested Subiresh Bhattacharya, a former chairman of the West Bengal School Service Commission.

He was serving as the vice-chancellor of the North Bengal University and faced CBI interrogation several times in recent months. One of his residences in Kolkata was sealed on August 24.

“Bhattacharya was not cooperating with our officers. There were discrepancies in his statements,” a CBI official said on conditions of anonymity.

The ED has pressed charges under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) directly against Chatterjee, who was dropped from the government and later suspended from the Trinamool Congress (TMC) by chief minister Mamata Banerjee after his arrest.

The central probe agency, which is conducting a parallel investigation into the bribe-for-job scam, arrested Chatterjee and Mukherjee on July 23. More than 50 crore in cash, gold and foreign currency were recovered at that time from two apartments registered in Mukherjee’s name. She was found to be the director of at least five companies and the owner of several properties and businesses from which Chatterjee had washed his hands off.

On September 16, the Alipore court in Kolkata transferred Chatterjee from the Presidency correctional home to CBI custody after the agency claimed during the hearing that he was the mastermind of the scam.

In May, Calcutta high court judge Abhijit Gangopadhyay ordered the CBI to probe the illegal appointment of non-teaching staff (Group C and D), and teaching staff by the West Bengal Central School Service Commission and the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education.

Before ordering the CBI probe, the high court entrusted retired judge Ranjit Kumar Bag with an inquiry since a few 100 job seekers alleged in their petitions that they were not recruited despite passing the qualifying examinations, while ineligible people cleared by paying bribes.

The Ranjit Kumar Bag inquiry committee held that 11 senior government officials were responsible for the irregularities and recommended police inquiry against six of them. Numerous recruits neither passed the written examination nor appeared for the personality test, it said. Among them was the daughter of West Bengal minister Paresh Adhikari; the court cancelled her appointment as well.

Chatterjee claimed during interrogation by ED and CBI that he left the recruitment process to a high-powered advisory committee, which is also now under scanner.

The committee’s chief adviser, Shanti Prasad Sinha and Ashok Saha, a committee member, were earlier arrested by the CBI.

Two alleged middlemen — Prasanna Kumar Roy and Pradip Singha — were also arrested. The CBI arrested former president of West Bengal Board of Secondary Education, Kalyanmoy Gangopadhyay, on September 15. The latter served as the president of the board for 10 years before retiring around two months ago.

Meanwhile, Monday’s charge sheet and Subiresh Bhattacharya’s arrest triggered a fresh political slugfest.

“More arrests will be made soon and the investigation will eventually reveal the involvement of top TMC leaders,” Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national vice-president Dilip Ghosh said.

Countering him, TMC Rajya Sabha member Santanu Sen said, “We will not comment on a sub-judice matter. However, we would surely want to know whether the BJP is running the CBI. How can Dilip Ghosh predict who is going to be arrested and when?”

Senior lawyer and CPI(M) Rajya Sabha member Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya, who represented the job seekers in court, alleged, “The government officials arrested by CBI and ED were mere pawns. The real beneficiary was the chief minister.”

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Tanmay Chatterjee has spent more than three decades covering regional and national politics, internal security, intelligence, defence and corruption. He also plans and edits special features on subjects ranging from elections to festivals.

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