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RTI-aided job scam on school appointments in West Bengal on radar


KOLKATA: The Right to Information (RTI) Act, which is often used by anti-corruption crusaders across the country, was used to commit irregularities in the appointments to schools in West Bengal. The startling revelation was made by the Calcutta High Court-appointed committee probing the alleged scam in the recruitment of Group C and D staff in schools through the School Service Commission (SSC).

In its report to the high court, the committee said the officers behind the irregularities allowed certain candidates to file RTI applications seeking their answer sheets and apply for re-evaluation in violation of the provisions of the SSC rules.

As per the report, the officers manipulated the answer sheets by increasing the marks of some candidates, forged marks to bring unsuccessful candidates into the appointment list and destroyed the answer sheets after the malpractice.

Arunava Banerjee, member of the probe committee and a high court advocate, said that RTI was used as a tool to access the answer scripts for manipulation. "Once the purpose was served, the answer sheets were destroyed," he said.

The report also mentioned that recommendation letters were forged by using data from the server of the commission and by obtaining scanned signatures of the chairpersons of the regional commissions.    

The committee, headed by retired high court justice Ranjit Ranjit Bag, had placed its report before the high court on May 12 and based on the report a division bench upheld the single bench order for a CBI probe into the alleged scam.

While the agency has already interrogated former education minister Partha Chatterjee, it has been grilling incumbent education minister Paresh Adhikary for three consecutive days.

On Friday, the high court ordered the dismissal of Adhikary's daughter Ankita as assistant teacher in a government-aided school and asked her to return the entire salary that she received since the date of her joining. Several SSC officials are also under the scanner of the central agency.

The entire recruitment process, which started in 2016, allegedly flouted rules to favour 381 candidates in Group C category of whom around 250 were not on the merit list. Similarly, 609 unsuccessful Group D candidates were allegedly issued recommendation letters.