Bengal municipal recruiting case: CBI conducts extensive raids

Kolkata, June 7 (IANS): By conducting simultaneous raid and search operations in various parts of the state, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday launched a full-fledged investigation into the multi-million dollar municipal recruitment scam in West Bengal.

The investigation team arrived at the office of the state's urban municipal affairs and urban development department, which serves as the nodal state government department for all urban civic bodies, including municipalities and municipal corporations, with the assistance of members of the central armed forces.

In North 24 Parganas, Hooghly, and Nadia districts, simultaneous raid and search operations were conducted at the offices of various municipalities. The home of private real estate promoter Ayan Sil, who is currently being held in custody for his alleged involvement in the scam, was also raided by a different team of CBI officers.

In fact, when Enforcement Directorate (ED) investigators were conducting raid and search operations at Sil's home as part of the organisation's parallel investigation in the school recruitment cases, the problem of municipal recruitment scams first came to light.

The investigation agencies are currently looking into a total of 14 municipalities in the state for significant irregularities in the hiring of clerks and workers in exchange for money.

Firhad Hakim, the mayor of Kolkata Municipal Corporation and the state's minister for municipal affairs and urban development, responded to the development by claiming that "unnecessary politics" is being played out in relation to the central agency investigation into the matter.

To stop the central agency's investigation into the municipalities' recruitment scam, the state government is engaged in a legal battle at the Calcutta High Court. Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay's single-judge bench on the Calcutta High Court initially approved a central agency investigation into the case.

The order was challenged by the state government before the Supreme Court, which then sent the case back to the Calcutta High Court. The state government then approached Justice Amrita Sinha's bench of the Calcutta High Court. Justice Sinha did support the directive to have a federal agency look into the situation, though.

The state government then brought the case before a division bench of the Calcutta High Court. A new bench was finally formed on Tuesday to hear the case after two successive division benches declined to hear it.

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