Teacher Recruitment Cases: Over 8,000 Tampering Detected in SSC Office System and Devices, Kolkata High Court Says | Latest India News
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), investigating the West Bengal School Service Commission (SSC) recruitment scam, discovered more than 8,000 manipulations of hard drives and a computer in the commission’s office for recruit undeserving candidates, the Calcutta High Court ruled last month.
The manipulations helped boost the scores of candidates who were unlikely to pass the recruitment exams, he added.
The case concerns alleged irregularities in the recruitment of teaching and non-teaching staff in public schools between 2014 and 2021. The CBI is investigating the case on instructions from the High Court.
The state’s former education minister, Partha Chatterjee, and his aide, Arpita Mukherjee, were arrested earlier by the Directorate of Law Enforcement (ED), which is carrying out a parallel investigation into the affair. Chatterjee served as the state’s education minister from 2014 to 2021. The duo are currently in custody.
The CBI made the above observations in four sealed-envelope reports to court in the last week of September, according to a senior agency official who did not wish to be named. The court opened two of the reports on September 28.
In its report, the CBI said it discovered at least 8,163 manipulations after analyzing hard drives and the computer server at the commission’s office. Three hard drives and a motherboard were recovered from the offices of an agency in Delhi believed to have been hired by SSC for the scam, the official said.
A total of 23,449 candidates have been recruited as teachers of grades 9 to 12 and as Group C (non-teaching) and Group D (non-teaching) staff in public schools since 2014. No less than 3,481 manipulations have been detected in recruitment in group C, 2,823 in recruitment in group D, 907 in recruitment of teachers for classes XI and XII and 952 in recruitment of teachers for classes IX and X.
During the investigation, it was also found that several candidates had either submitted blank OMR sheets (special types of sheets on which candidates must completely fill in bubbles or tick boxes to mark the answer to different questions) or answered a maximum of six to seven questions out of more than 50.
“While several candidates had submitted blank OMR sheets, simply filling in their names and roll numbers, others answered around six to seven questions,” the official said.
Tampering with the office computer’s hard drives, motherboard and server helped boost these candidates’ scores, the official added.
The High Court ordered the CBI to investigate the case on March 31. The CBI filed its case on May 20 and on September 30 filed its indictment against 16 people, including Chatterjee, five former senior SSC officials and 10 candidates.
The ED, which is investigating allegations of money laundering, filed its indictment against Chatterjee and Mukherjee on September 19.
Chatterjee was arrested on July 23 after 27 hours of questioning in the case, in which the ED has so far recovered a cash value of around ₹50 crores. Mukherjee, from whom the money was seized in a raid the same day, was also arrested as a prime suspect.
Both Chatterjee and Mukherjee have denied having any connection to the money recovered during the investigation.
Sudipta Dasgupta, a barrister at the High Court and solicitor for one of the claimants in the case, said several recruited candidates appeared to have achieved the same marks on the exam.
“What caught our attention was that several candidates who had been recruited had obtained the same marks. They got 53 out of 55. Later the CBI survey found that many of them had submitted blank OMR sheets which were then manipulated,” he said.
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