A LIST of 48 candidates with roll numbers for posts of primary teacher; documents related to the appointment of Group D staff, including admit cards for recruitment tests; and, a list of candidates under the letterhead of a former TMC MLA.
These are among the records allegedly recovered from the home of West Bengal Industry and Commerce Minister Partha Chatterjee by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) during searches conducted on July 22 in connection with the state school jobs scam, according to court records obtained by The Indian Express.
Chatterjee, who is also secretary general of the ruling TMC, was arrested in the case by the ED on July 23. He was the state’s Education Minister when the alleged scam took place in 2016.
The papers seized are listed in a plea filed by ED in the Calcutta High Court on July 23 seeking quashing or modification of the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s order for Chatterjee to be taken to SSKM hospital for check-up and treatment.
The court records also include an arrest memo filed separately by the ED. It claims in the section, “Name of relative/ friend whom the person taken into custody intends to inform”, that Chatterjee called Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee four times after his arrest at 1.55 am on July 23 but could not reach her.
The memo, filed by Mithilesh Kumar Mishra, Investigating Officer and Assistant Director, Kolkata Zonal Office II, ED, claims that Chatterjee called the Chief Minister at 2.32 am, 2.33 am, 3.37 am and 9.35 am. It also claims that the Minister refused to sign the arrest memo.
On July 24, the High Court directed the ED to take Chatterjee to AIIMS-Bhubaneswar by an air ambulance. On Monday, AIIMS-Bhubaneswar executive director Ashutosh Biswas said Chatterjee “doesn’t require hospitalisation at this time” and that the medical reports have been sent to the High Court.
The records listed in the ED plea also include documents allegedly linked to “immovable properties” and “companies” of Chatterjee’s aide and co-accused in the case, Arpita Mukherjee. According to the ED, Chatterjee was in “regular contact” with Mukherjee through a specific mobile number.
The ED has also alleged in its plea that Chatterjee was involved in the “illegal appointment in lieu of money” of primary teachers, assistant teachers from Class 9-12 and Group D staff.
It states that Rs 20 crore was allegedly recovered from the Tollygunge premises of Arpita Mukherjee, which is described as “nothing but the proceeds of crime generated in relation to the criminal activities for giving illegal appointments…”.
It lists a “total of more than 20 cell phones…recovered from the premises of Ms Arpita Mukherjee, the purpose and use of which is yet to be ascertained.”
The ED plea in the High Court details the documents allegedly seized: “…documents relating to appointment of Group D staff… like admit cards of the candidates, summary of the final results in (a recruitment test of) 2016 for the post of Group D staff, intimation letters for verification of testimonials and personality test…for the post of clerk of Indranil Bhattacharya”. The ED has not detailed the identity of Bhattacharya.
“List of candidates of Group D post at the letterhead of Shri Ananta Deb Adhikari, Admit card of 3rd Regional Level Selection Test for non-teaching staff (Group D) of Samapati Thakur, Application form for recruitment of clerk and Group D staff in respect of Samapati Thakur, a list of 48 candidates for upper primary teacher with roll number etc which indicates that Partha Chatterjee was actively involved in the appointment of Group D staff.”
The ED has not detailed the identity of Thakur. When contacted by The Indian Express, Ananta Deb Adhikari, former TMC MLA of Maynaguri and current chairman of Maynaguri municipality in Jalpaiguri, said: “I do not remember the year when I sent those recommendations. But I did send some names as an MLA. All the MLAs did at that time. Some of the recommendations from other MLAs have been cleared. But my list was not cleared and no one on the list got jobs. I guess that is why it was there at Partha Chatterjee’s house.”
Adhikari said: “My son has passed MSc and BEd and my daughter has passed MA in English and BEd. I tried to get them jobs as teachers in government schools but that, too, did not happen.”
According to the ED’s plea, “a number of other incriminating documents and electronic devices relating to the generation of proceeds of crime have been recovered during the course of search at various premises and which are to be confronted with the accused persons and the trail of money is to be further investigated”.
On the direction of the Calcutta High Court, the CBI is investigating alleged irregularities in the recruitment of Group C & D staff and teachers in government and aided schools on the recommendations of the West Bengal School Service Commission. The ED is investigating the money laundering aspect of the alleged recruitment scam.