School jobs scam: SC stays HC order imposing Rs 25 lakh cost on TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday stayed the Calcutta High Court order, which imposed a cost of Rs 25 lakh on Trinamool Congress leader Abhishek Banerjee while dismissing his plea in connection with the school jobs scam case.

A vacation bench of Justices J K Maheshwari and P S Narasimha listed for hearing in July Banerjee’s plea against the high court’s May 18 order dismissing a petition filed by him seeking recall of a previous order of the high court which said probe agencies such as the CBI and ED could interrogate him in the case.

“Re-list in the week commencing July 10. Till the next date of listing, the imposition of the cost part by the impugned order shall remain stayed,” the bench said.

Banerjee, who was on May 20 questioned for over nine hours by the CBI in connection with the probe into the case, has sought the apex court direction that no coercive steps be taken against him by the agency.

The TMC leader’s name cropped up in a complaint filed by Kuntal Ghosh, a local businessman and an accused in the school jobs scam, where he alleged that central investigating agencies were pressuring him to name Banerjee, who is the general secretary of the TMC, in the case.

The agency’s summons came within 24 hours of the Calcutta High Court dismissing a petition filed by Banerjee seeking recall of a previous court order, which said probe agencies such as the CBI and ED could interrogate him in the teacher recruitment scam case.

Banerjee, nephew of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, had alleged that while TMC leaders who were unwilling to bend were being harassed, BJP leaders who had been involved in various cases were allowed to go scot-free.

The two-time TMC MP from Diamond Harbour was questioned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) twice in the coal pilferage case in the agency’s office in the national capital in 2021 and also in Kolkata in 2022.

While the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is probing the criminal aspect of the scam, the ED is looking into the money trail involved in the alleged irregularities in school recruitment.