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School jobs scam: TMC MLA Manik Bhattacharya’s judicial remand extended

Kolkata: Rejecting the bail prayer of arrested former West Bengal Board of Primary Education president Manik Bhattacharya, a special PMLA court in Kolkata on Friday extended his judicial custody till November 10 in connection with the school jobs scam.

The Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court granted the Enforcement Directorate (ED) permission to interrogate Bhattacharya in the Presidency Correctional Home where he is lodged.

Bhattacharya, a Trinamool Congress MLA, was arrested by the central agency in connection with its investigation into giving jobs to “undeserving” candidates as primary teachers in state government-sponsored and -aided schools allegedly in lieu of money.

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A separate prayer by the CBI to question Bhattacharya in the correctional home was also allowed by the court.

On a prayer by the ED, the court extended the judicial remand of the former primary school board president till November 10.

Bhattacharya, who was in ED custody following his arrest by the agency on October 10, had been remanded to judicial custody on October 25 till Friday.

The ED claimed that the investigation has revealed the role of Bhattacharya as one of the key persons in the entire scam of offering jobs in lieu of money.

Praying for his judicial custody, ED counsels submitted that he was the president of the West Bengal Board of Primary Education for more than 10 years from 2011 during which more than 58,000 primary teachers were recruited through the board.

The ED claimed that he was arrested on October 10 for his non-cooperation with the investigation.

Opposing his bail prayer, the ED claimed that Bhattacharya being an MLA of the ruling Trinamool Congress, is an influential person and that the investigation is at a very nascent stage.

Seeking bail for Bhattacharya, his lawyers claimed that allegations levelled against him have not been substantiated and no cogent and sufficient material has yet been collected by the investigating agency.

It was also claimed that he has been cooperating with the investigation.

The CBI is also investigating the role of Bhattacharya and others in the jobs for money case on an order of the Calcutta High Court.

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