WBSSC scam: Retirement age of commission president raised to accommodate tainted officer-bearer

West Bengal government, in 2016, increased the retirement age for West Bengal School Service Commission (WBSSC) president to 68 years from 65 years to accommodate Kalyanmoy Gangopadhyay in the post.

On Thursday evening, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) officials arrested Gangopadhyay in connection with the multi-crore West Bengal School Service Commission (WBSSC) recruitment irregularities scam. He will be presented at a special court of CBI this afternoon.

Now this desperation on part of the state government to retain Gangopadhyay in that chair has kept the CBI sleuths intrigued on whether the extension was backed by a despicable motive to provide a smooth running- track for the scam to continue.

The CBI has also noted that Gangopadhyay continued in the chair for over a year even after he attained the age of 68 in the opening quarter of 2021. It was only in June this year that he was removed after the central agencies started a probe in the multi-crore teachers’ recruitment scam. This made Gangopadhyay the longest serving WBSSC president from 2012 from 2022.

It is perceived that had not the central agency inquiry started in the matter, probably he would have continued in the chair till date.

CBI sources said that their main task now is joining the dots to establish the connection between his extension through amendment in the retirement age for the chair and the irregularities papered by him during his long 10-year tenure in that chair. The principal charge against Gangopadhyay is the distribution of appointment letters flouting all norms and blinding following the recommendations of WBSSC’s screening committee without cross-checking.

To recall, the Calcutta High Court judicial committee headed by Justice Ranjit Kumar Bag (retired) identified the screening committee of WBSSC as the epicentre of the scam and also said the committee’s erstwhile convenor SP Sinha as its mastermind. Sinha as well as the former WBSSC secretary are currently under judicial custody.

The allegation against Gangopadhyay is also that he used to blindly clear the appointment recommendations forwarded by Sinha without cross- checking them.

CPI(M) central committee member and former leader of the left legislative parties in West Bengal assembly, Sujan Chakraborty said that the opposition parties objected to the extension of retirement age for WBSSC chairman’s chair only in 2016 when it was done. “But ignoring that the state government carried on with the revision,” he said.

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