Probe: RTI used as weapon to fudge answer sheets in Bengal SSC scam

Oversight committee without legal basis, use of the Right to Information (RTI) Act as a ‘weapon’ to obtain answer sheets and then increase marks for candidates to manipulate ranks, issue recommendations and letters of appointment with forged signatures, and physical destruction of (answer) papers RO. Reportedly lies behind an alleged recruitment scam in West Bengal Schools Services Commission (WBSSC), according to the investigative committee chaired by Judge (Retired) Ranjit Bagh Commission which submitted its report to the Calcutta High Court on May 12.

Division Judges of Harish Tandon and Rabindranath Samantha formed the panel on February 22 to look into alleged irregularities in the recruitment process. Based on its report, the department of Judges Subrata Talukdar and

Justice Ananda Kumar Mukherjee on Wednesday upheld the guidance of High Court Judge Abhijit Gangupadhyay on the CBI investigation into alleged irregularities in appointments to Group C and Group D positions in the Department of School Education – the entire recruitment process started in 2016. While Group C includes all clerical jobs, With a starting salary of Rs 22,700 per month, attendees are hired as Group D employees for a monthly stipend of Rs 17,000. The rules were allegedly intended to favor 381 Group C candidates, of whom approximately 250 were not on the merit list at all, and 609 unsuccessful Group D candidates received letters of recommendation.

Following the division’s orders, the way was cleared for the CBI’s questioning of current Minister of Industry Partha Chatterjee, who was holding the education portfolio at the time of the alleged irregularities, and current Minister of State for Education Paresh Adhikari, whose daughter Ankita allegedly benefited from the fraud. On Friday, the Supreme Court ordered Ankita to be fired from her job as an assistant teacher at a government-supported school and required her to return the full salary since the date she joined it. The court also rejected Chatterjee’s plea for immunity from arrest by the Central Bank of Iraq. The Central Agency questioned him on Wednesday. She also questioned several WBSSC officers.

Paresh Chandra Adhikari. (Twitter / @PareshAOfficial)

The Commission’s report is understood to have stated that the officers behind the alleged fraud allowed selected candidates to submit RTI applications for their answer sheets and apply for reassessment “in violation of the provisions of the School Service Commission’s rules, 2009 under which the Commission governs.” Then the officers allegedly tampered with the research papers by increasing the scores of some candidates to give them a higher rank. It was also alleged that they falsified signs to include unsuccessful candidates in the recruitment list. After changing the tags, the OMR papers were allegedly destroyed.

The commission’s document reportedly states that its finding was that letters of recommendation were given to “undeserving and unsuccessful candidates for Group C positions” in the form of a paper reading and writing reassessment, re-examination, writing review, or computer aptitude test for candidates. for Group C posts to increase grades and raise ranks on the Commission on the basis of an application made under the RTI Act.”

“Essentially, the RTI was used as a weapon to increase the scores of candidates, and after they were done, they destroyed the OMR papers,” said panel member and human rights advocate, Arunava Banerjee. According to him, the Commission does not have the power to re-evaluate, review or re-examine read-only papers or answer transcripts to increase scores and raise the ranks of candidates “on the basis of consideration under the RTI Act to bring in unsuccessful candidates within the consideration area either during the board’s validity period or after the board has expired.” “.

The report stated that the letters of recommendation had been forged “by using data from the Central Committee server and by creating the regional committee memo number using the sequential order of the previous memo number of the respective regional commission and by using the scanned signatures of the regional commission chairmen…”

With questions starting to be asked about delays in the recruitment process, Partha Chatterjee formed a supervisory committee on 1 November 2019 for “oversight, monitoring and guidance” at WBSCC. This committee was formed by the former Adviser of the School Education Board, Santi Prasad Sinha, Minister’s Officers on Special Service (OSDs) Prabir Kumar Bandyopadhyay, Sukanta Acharya, Deputy Director of School Education Alok Kumar Sarkar, and Senior Legal Officer of School Education Department Tapas Kumar Banga.

But, the portfolio committee reportedly said the supervisory committee was not legally valid and it was clear that every decision made by the committee had the “approval of MIC (Minister Responsible) Partha Chatterjee”.

Other committee members were SSC Board Member Ashutosh Ghosh and Deputy Secretary of West Bengal Board of Secondary Education (WBBSE) Parometa Roy.

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The Portfolio Committee also reviewed the opinion of seven candidates, of whom only two appeared on the waiting list for “Group C” positions. Others’ names were missing. “Some candidates consistently stated that they were not aware of their scores but applied to increase their scores in the written test by reassessing the electronic reading papers and upgrade their scores. In the committee by submitting an RTI application on the advice of Central Committee officials,” Banerjee said.

The lawyer added: “The Central Schools Services Committee did not maintain transparency at the time of publication of the Group C Publications Committee on December 20, 2017, as the candidates were unable to reach the committee to find out his or her rank toward-relative to the rank of other candidates on the board and the committee’s copy was not circulated among Regional School Service Committees and Dubai Municipality offices in the respective regions…”

The WBSSC also changed the rank of candidates on the current panel before uploading it to its website on June 20, 2019, despite directing the Supreme Court to upload the current panel already published on November 6, 2017.

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