A court in Kolkata on Thursday, 18 August, extended the judicial custody of former Trinamool Congress (TMC) minister Partha Chatterjee and his aide Arpita Mukherjee till 31 August.
Earlier, the duo were remanded to 14 days judicial custody by a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court in Kolkata (Bankshall court) on 5 August.
Chatterjee was arrested on 23 July by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in relation to alleged irregularities in the recruitment of teachers, teaching and non-teaching staff, through the West Bengal School Service Commission, during his tenure as the education minister of West Bengal.
At least Rs 50 crore of unaccounted cash, along with jewellery, land deeds, foreign currency, and several properties in Mukherjee's name and linked to Chatterjee were found by the ED, which also found multiple companies and properties linked to the two accused.
What is the Alleged Teacher Recruitment Scam?
The scam allegedly occurred when Chatterjee was in charge of state education as a minister in the Mamata Banerjee government.
It involved alleged irregularities in the recruitment of Group C and D staff, as well as teachers in government-sponsored and aided schools on recommendations of the West Bengal School Service Commission (WBSSC).
The charge levelled against Chatterjee is that he provided jobs in exchange for money to those candidates who had obtained lower marks in the exam over those who had cleared the exam on merit.
The Calcutta High Court also ordered a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the matter, in connection with which the senior minister was questioned twice earlier this year.
An inquiry committee that was constituted to look into the alleged scam claimed that more than 600 staff members of Group D had been illegally recruited.
In 2016, the West Bengal government issued a notification to the SSC to recruit 13,000 Group D employees for state-aided/run schools. In 2019, the panel making the appointments expired, but despite that, several people were allegedly appointed by the WBSSC.
Four unsuccessful candidates had moved the Calcutta High Court, alleging that 523 candidates had been appointed after the panel expired.
As per an inquiry committee constituted by a division bench in 2021, a total of 381 candidates had been recruited illegally in Group C. The committee also alleged that a panel appointed by the joint secretary to the West Bengal government, to oversee the recruitment of around 13,000 non-teaching staff, did not have any legal validity.