While appointing Child Welfare Committee (CWC) and Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) members, the state women and child development and social welfare department, it has been learnt, has overlooked recommendations made by at least three districts.
According to norms, the department receives a list of recommended candidates by the district child protection unit. The merit list is prepared on the basis of points awarded by district authorities to the applicants. Later, on the basis of the list, the state department appoints chairpersons and members of such committees.
It has been learnt that last year, there had been gross discrepancies while setting up such CWCs in several districts.
For example, in a recommendation letter signed by the Nadia district magistrate (DM) on September 29, 2014 (accessed by The Indian Express), he had recommended Dr Sudhansu Sekhar Jana as the chairperson and Jakir Hossion Mollick, Anindita Ghose, Chandana Tarafdar and Nasim Banu Mondle as members.
The recommendations were made on the basis of points awarded by the DM, SP and district social welfare officer (DSWO) of Nadia. While Jana had scored a highest average of 78.3 per cent , the others had secured 68.3, 67.3, 60 and 60 per cent, respectively.
On December 12, 2014, the state government sent a list of selected members to the district administration (accessed by The Indian Express). To the surprise of the district administration, Rina Mukherjee — who had scored 40.3 and was ranked joint eighth with two other applicants — was made the committee chairperson.
While Mondle and Ghose were included in the committee, the other two members chosen were Pradip Banerjee and Maya Das. While Banerjee had scored 55.33 per cent, Das’ name did not figure in the recommendation list.
When contacted, Dr Jana told The Indian Express, “I had applied and was called for the test. I had come to know that I did quite well but never received any call or letter of appointment after that.”
Alleging favouritism, Jakir Hossion Mollick claimed that the chosen ones were favourites of the ruling Trinamool Congress. “Through RTI, I came to know that I had scored 68.3… Many of the people included in the committee did not even appear for the test. They got through because of their affiliation to the Trinamool. Now, they tease us saying that our talent got us nowhere,” he said.
The Birbhum administration narrated a similar experience. In a letter dated January 2, 2015, the Birbhum DM had enclosed two merit lists — one for CWC and the other for social workers of JJB.
In the CWC merit list – signed by the DM, SP and DSWO of Birbhum — the district had recommended topper Swapan Kumar Das as the chairperson. However, the state government instead appointed Dr Nityananda Roy, who ranked 10th in the merit list.
Further, the district had recommended Nilmadhab Thakur (second in the merit list) for one out of two posts of JJB social workers. Instead, Atanu Kumar Dutta, placed at the seventh position in the list, was appointed.
In West Midnapore, the situation was even worse. The CWC finally formed by the state government had Dr Sasanka Sekhar Patra as the chairperson and Asima Manna, Mou Roy, Mahasin Khan and Sunil Kumar Bhowmik as members. None of them figured in the top 10 of the merit list prepared by the district authorities.
When contacted, state Minister for Women and Child Development Shashi Panja claimed it was the state’s prerogative to select candidates. “No rule states that district authorities will take tests or interviews. They will send us a list of recommendations and then it is up to us to decide who would be recruited,” she said.