Kolkata, Aug 10 (IANS): Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday afternoon arrested two key former officials of the West Bengal School Service Commission (WBSSC) in connection with the multi-crore teachers' recruitment irregularities scam.
The two arrested are Santi Prasad Sinha, the former convener of WBSSC's special screening committee, considered to be the epicenter of the multi-crore scam and the former secretary of WBSSC, Ashok Saha. Both were named in the FIR filed by CBI before starting its investigation in the matter.
These are the first arrests by CBI in the WBSSC scam. Earlier, the sleuths of the Enforcement Directorate (ED), conducting a probe on the money-trail angle in the scam, arrested former West Bengal education minister and Trinamool Congress secretary general Partha Chatterjee and his close aide Arpita Mukherjee in this connection. Both Partha Chatterjee and Arpita Mukherjee are currently in judicial custody.
CBI sources said that Sinha and Saha have been making deliberate attempts to suppress facts and mislead the investigators throughout. "Both will be presented to a court on Thursday and we will seek custody for them for further investigation. We need to interrogate them further to have a clear idea on the modus operandi of the entire scam and more specially how the special screening committee became the epicenter in the scam," a CBI official said.
A Calcutta High Court-formed judicial committee under the leadership of Justice Ranjit Kumar Bag (retired) was the first body to hold the WBSSC special screening committee and Sinha responsible for playing a key role in the recruitment irregularities process. The Bag committee also observed that the members of the screening committee were responsible for misappropriating the merit list. In fact, the judicial committee report was the key factor that prompted Calcutta High Court's single-judge bench of Justice Avijit Gangopadhyay to order an enquiry by the CBI in the matter.
Welcoming the development, Leader of the Opposition in the West Bengal assembly, Suvendu Adhikari said that whatever has recovered has been a little percentage of the scam money involved. "As days will pass on, more heavyweights of the ruling party and their partners in crime will be taken into custody by the central agency sleuths and more money will be recovered," he said.
The Trinamool Congress leaders remained tight-lipped on the issue till the time this report was filed.