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By A Newsman

Kolkata, 11 January: CALCUTTA High Court has extended the service of the near 1.3 lakh civic police volunteers in Bengal by one more month.

A division bench of acting Chief Justice Nishita Nirmal Mhatre and Justice Tapabrata Chakraborty today granted the extension as Bikash Bhattacharya, the advocate of the plaintiff who had filed a public interest litigation challenging the recruitment of the civic volunteers for irregularities, was absent during the hearing today.

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The civic volunteers will now continue to be in service until 15 February. Earlier the same bench had extended the service tenure of the civic volunteers till 15 January from the original termination deadline of 31 December.

The bench of Chief Justice Mhatre and Justice Chakraborty would hear the case again on 07 February, Tuesday.

Earlier on 20 May 2015, Justice Sanjib Banerjee had terminated the services of the civic police volunteers over irregularities in appointment and the termination was to come into effect from 31 December.

While giving his ruling, apart from terminating the services of the existing civic volunteers, Justice Banerjee had asked the state government to form a three-member expert panel to formulate regulations, and undertake a fresh recruitment of civic volunteers.

But challenging the ruling, Trinamool government filed petition before the division bench. On 14 November, the bench had asked the state government about the status of the panel that was ordered by Justice Banerjee.

In response, the state’s advocate general Jayanta Mitra had told the court on 16 December that the government had not made a move on this as yet since its petition challenging Justice Banerjee’s order was pending.

Two years into power, Trinamool government had introduced Civic Police Volunteer Force (CPVF) in 2013, under which around 1.3 lakh unemployed youths had been appointed on a no-work-no-pay basis. Their mandate is to assist police personnel in maintaining law and order, and traffic.

But from the very beginning, there had been allegations that mostly Trinamool cadres were recruited as civic volunteers and several recruitment were made in lieu of bribe.