Bengal School Jobs Scam: Primary Edu Board Ex-Chief’s Bail Prayer Rejected

A PMLA court here on Wednesday rejected a bail prayer of former West Bengal Board of Primary Education chairman Manik Bhattacharya, an accused in a money-for-teaching jobs case.

Bhattacharya, also a Trinamool Congress MLA from Palashipara constituency in Nadia district, was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on October 11, 2022.

Observing that he is a man of influence, the judge of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court at the City Sessions Court here rejected the bail prayer of Bhattacharya.

Praying for his bail, Bhattacharya’s counsel submitted that he cannot be kept in detention for an indefinite period of time on the ground that further investigation is going on.

He also stated that Bhattacharya is ready to comply with any condition imposed, in case, his prayer is allowed.

Opposing the bail prayer, ED’s counsels Phiroze Edulji and Abhijit Bhadra claimed that a lot of documents and electronic devices were seized from the residence of Bhattacharya during search operations by the agency.

They claimed that scrutiny of the seized articles indicated active involvement of the accused in “illegal appointment” of teachers in state government-sponsored and -aided primary schools.

Submitting that the investigation is going on to unearth the proceeds of crime and involvement of other influential persons, they said granting the bail prayer at this stage will affect the probe very badly.

The court noted that Bhattacharya is an MLA and had held a very important position in the primary education board of the state.

Rejecting the bail prayer, the court observed that “it goes without saying that a person of such stature can influence the witnesses and if enlarged on bail, may cause serious disruption in the forthcoming evidence at this crucial stage of investigation”.

The judge said that the possibility of his absconding can also not be ruled out.

The ED arrested Bhattacharya in connection with its probe into the money-for-jobs scam, in which “undeserving” candidates were allegedly appointed as assistant teachers in state government-sponsored and -aided schools in the state.

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