In two separate orders, a special CBI court on Friday approved the agency’s pleas seeking the custody of former West Bengal Education Minister, Partha Chatterjee, and ex-Chairman of West Bengal School Service Commission (WBSSC), Kalyanmoy Gangopadhyay, for interrogation pertaining to the multi-crore teacher recruitment scam.
Rejecting the respective bail pleas of both Chatterjee and Gangopadhyay, the special court directed the central agency to take the duo into custody till September 21.
While Chatterjee is currently in judicial custody following his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in July-end, Gangopadhyay was arrested by the CBI on Thursday evening.
Just before arresting Gangopadhyay, CBI had appealed to the court seeking Chatterjee’s custody in the matter.
Following the court order, CBI counsel Kalicharan Mishra told mediapersons that the WBSSC recruitment scam was a ‘huge conspiracy’ of which Chatterjee was the mastermind.
“CBI needed to take Chatterjee into custody for further interrogation and the court has accepted our arguments on this count,” Mishra added.
Earlier, while moving Chatterjee’s bail plea, his counsel argued that CBI is seeking his custody knowing well that his client might get bail anytime from his current judicial custody.
The counsel also argued that although Chatterjee was the former Education Minister, he had no hand in WBSSC recruitments since the commission was an autonomous body.
Chatterjee’s counsel argued that the ED has so far not been able to furnish any solid evidence that his client had any role to play in the teacher recruitment scam.
At one point, Chatterjee himself requested the judge to grant him bail under any condition and cited his medical state, academic background and rich family legacy.
However, the court while rejecting the bail plea observed that as a former minister, Chatterjee cannot shy away from his responsibilities in the matter.
On the other hand, Gangopadhyay’s counsel argued that the WBSSC appointment letters contained scanned signature of his client, which was used without his knowledge.
However, the judge, while rejecting his bail plea, observed that as then WBSSC Chairman, Gangopadhyay was the issuing authority of those appointment letters, hence he cannot deny his responsibility.
CBI sources said that the agency sleuths will now question Chatterjee and Gangopadhyay together by putting them up face-to face to identify the missing links in the scam.
Meanwhile, Trinamool Congress spokesman Kunal Ghosh said that the party has no comment to make on the decision of the court.
“As regards to Partha Chatterjee, the party leadership has already taken some decisions. As regards to the court order, since it is a judicial matter, the party has nothing to say on it and the law will take its own course,” Ghosh said.
Hailing the court decision, BJP’s national Vice President Dilip Ghosh said circumstantial evidence has proved that both Partha Chatterjee and Kalyanmoy Gangopadhyay were the key persons behind the scam.