The Calcutta High Court on Thursday ordered the CBI to register a fresh case in connection with alleged irregularities in the appointment of assistant teachers for classes 9 and 10 in government-aided schools, and interrogate former advisor of West Bengal School Service Commission (SSC) S P Sinha while holding that he made a false statement before the Court.

The court gave the agency a free hand to interrogate any person they think fit, whatever be his social or political status.

The CBI had registered an FIR on Tuesday, with regard to similar allegations in a different petition by Lakshmi Tunga, on an order of the High Court against a former deputy director, Directorate of School Education, West Bengal.

Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay on Thursday observed that this matter, on a petition by Anindita Bera, is also required to be investigated by CBI by registering a new case as it relates to the appointment of assistant teachers in classes IX and X.

"The CBI is directed to investigate the matter and to interrogate Dr Santi Prasad Sinha especially and other members of the committee again in this matter in view of the startling revelation made," Justice Gangopadhyay said.

The Court was referring to a five-member committee constituted by the School Education department in November 2019 for monitoring pending recruitment of teaching and non-teaching staff in government-aided schools. Sinha was the convenor of the panel.

The Court directed the regional head of the CBI to start investigating the matter after registering a case in the course of the day itself and file a report on Friday on compliance with its order.

The matter will be taken up for hearing again after two weeks, the court directed. The Court noted that in a supplementary affidavit by the petitioner, a document shows that there were at least two or more meetings of the five-member committee, whereas Sinha had informed the single bench that there was no meeting of the panel.

"I find that Dr Sinha has made false statement before this court as the notice of a meeting dated 19.11.2019... is signed by said Dr Sinha himself," the Court observed.

In the writ application, the petitioner prayed for publishing a fair and transparent merit list of assistant teachers in the first state-level selection test held in 2016 for classes 9 and 10.

The petitioner alleged 27 instances of illegal appointments in the post of assistant teachers.

The court noted the submission of advocate for the state, Bhaskar Prasad Vaisya, that though it is found from the said notice that Sinha had called a meeting to be held in the chamber of the personal secretary to the minister in charge (MIC) of the school education department, it cannot be said that the MIC was "inverted" in it.

"Whether the then MIC knew about such meeting or not or any other thing as to the corrupt practice in such appointment is a matter to be investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation and they are given a freehand to interrogate any person they think fit to unearth the corruption in the appointment in government-aided schools scam whatever be his social or political status," Justice Gangopadhyay observed.

The judge had on Monday, in another petition over alleged illegal appointments, directed four members of the committee to appear before the CBI in connection with alleged irregularities in the process.

While the panel was headed by Sinha, its four members were S Acharya, P K Bandopadhyay, A K Sarkar and T Panja. Justice Gangopadhay had on Tuesday directed the CBI to register a case in the matter so that it can take all steps required.

With PTI inputs