Trinamool Congress MLA Jiban Krishna Saha was arrested on Monday by the CBI from his residence in West Bengal’s Murshidabad district in connection with its investigation into the school jobs-for-bribes scam, officials said.
Saha, an MLA from the Burwan constituency, was being questioned by the CBI since April 14 in connection with the case as searches went on at his house in connection with the illegal recruitments in state sponsored and aided schools, they said.
Following his arrest after the marathon interrogation by the investigators, he was brought to the CBI office at Nizam Palace in Kolkata, around 220 km away.
When produced before a special CBI court in Alipore here in the evening, he was remanded to four days in the agency’s custody as his bail plea was rejected.
The CBI lawyer, praying for Saha’s five-day custody, submitted that several documents linked to the scam were recovered from his residence, and that he needs to be questioned with regard to conspiracy with other persons in the irregularities.
The CBI also submitted that he tried to destroy evidence by throwing away his mobile phones during the searches at his house.
Saha, 46, allegedly dumped his two mobile phones in a pond adjacent to his house when the agency raided him. It was fished out on Sunday evening, officials said.
He is the third TMC MLA to be arrested in connection with the investigations by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate into the school jobs scam in the state.
Former minister Partha Chatterjee, who held the Education portfolio between 2014 and 2021 when the irregularities in the recruitment of teaching and non-teaching staff are alleged to have taken place, and another MLA Manik Bhattacharya were arrested last year. Bhattacharya is the former president of the West Bengal Board of Primary Education.
The CBI and the ED are investigating the case on the orders of the Calcutta High Court.
The TMC said it was keeping a close watch on the situation.
“But we don’t want to react… The law will take its own course,” TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh said.
The BJP claimed that the arrests of the TMC legislators prove that public representatives of the ruling party in the state were involved in corruption.
“Saha is the third MLA to be arrested. The list of TMC leaders involved in corruption is long. These arrests show that public representatives are involved in corruption,” BJP national vice-president Dilip Ghosh alleged.
Leader of opposition Suvendu Adhikari alleged TMC leaders acted as middlemen in providing school jobs against cash.
“Ruling party of WB established its parallel ‘Tola-Mool’ (graft) Service Commission for selling WB State Govt jobs to the highest bidder,” he tweeted.
Reacting to the attack, TMC’s Ghosh tweeted, “Why and how Suvendu is roaming free instead of being arrested? He is named in the Narada case. He joined BJP only to avoid actions.”