The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) initiated a comprehensive investigation into a multi-crore recruitment scam in the state municipalities. On Wednesday, the CBI conducted simultaneous raids and search operations in various locations across the state.
Accompanied by Central armed forces personnel, the investigation team arrived at the office of the state urban municipal affairs and urban development department, which serves as the central department for all civic bodies, including municipalities and municipal corporations. The CBI conducted raids and searches at the offices of different municipalities in North 24-Parganas, Hooghly and Nadia districts.
Additionally, another team of CBI officers conducted raids at the residence of private real estate promoter Ayan Sil, who is currently in judicial custody for his alleged involvement in the scam. The recruitment scam in municipalities first came to light during raids conducted by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) at Sil’s residence.
The ED was investigating recruitment cases in schools when they uncovered the alleged irregularities. A total of 14 municipalities in the state are currently under scrutiny by the probe agencies due to significant irregularities in the recruitment process for clerks and workers, involving monetary transactions. CBI officials raided the urban development department in Salt Lake City and conducted searches at municipal offices in Chinsurah, Shantipur and Barrackpore.
The CBI team also searched Ayan Sil’s house and the offices of Barrackpore, Panihati and South Dum Dum municipalities. CBI sources have stated that the agency requested copies of the resolutions passed prior to the appointments and will collect data on previous examinations, notifications, and lists of candidates.
In response to these developments, Firhad Hakim, the state municipal affairs and urban development minister claimed that unnecessary political interference is hindering the central agency’s investigation. The state government is currently involved in a legal battle at the Calcutta High Court in an attempt to halt the CBI’s probe into the municipalities’ recruitment scam.
Initially, a single Bench of Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay at the Calcutta High Court granted permission for a CBI probe. The state government subsequently appealed to the Supreme Court, which referred the matter back to the Calcutta High Court. Later, the state government approached Justice Amrita Sinha, who also upheld the order for a CBI probe.
Following this, the state government approached a division bench of the Calcutta High Court. After two successive division benches recused themselves from hearing the case, a new Bench was finally constituted to address the matter on Tuesday.