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Kolkata: Calcutta HC

Bengal teacher recruitment scam: Calcutta HC cancels 25753 appointments

April 22, 2024
Mita Mukherjee

In a big blow to the Mamata Banerjee government the Calcutta High Court on Monday cancelled all appointments of 25,753 teaching and non-teaching staff in the state-aided schools in Bengal who had been selected through a recruitment process of 2016.

A division bench comprising justices Debangsu Basak and Md Shabbar Rashidi of the Calcutta High Court in its 281-page judgment declared the entire panel of 2016 recruitment held by the state-controlled School Service Commission (SSC) “ null and void”.

All appointments of teachers for Classes IX to XII and groups C and D where irregularities were found, have been nullified, the court said.

” All appointments granted in the selection processes involved being violated of Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution of India, are declared null and void and cancelled,” the order said.

However, the court in its order directed the state administration to start the process of fresh appointments in the next 15 days. Over 23 lakh candidates had appeared for the State Level Selection Test (SLST) for filling up 24,460 vacant posts. The court directed re-evaluation of the OMR sheets of all 23 lakh candidates who had appeared in the recruitment test in 2016. The jobs of all genuine candidates who are found to be eligible after the re-evaluation can be reinstated.

The court said those who were appointed after the expiry of the 2016 panel through creation of supernumerary posts will have to refund the salaries within four weeks.

The only exception as mentioned by the court is in the case of one Soma Das who is a cancer patient whose job will remain safe on humanitarian grounds, the court said.

The division bench of justices Debangsu Basak and Mohammed Shabbar Rashidi also directed the CBI to conduct further investigation in respect of the recruitment process and submit a report in three months.

The bench today pronounced the judgment after hearing together a large number of petitions and appeals, relating to alleged irregularities in the selection of candidates in Bengal government-sponsored and aided secondary and higher secondary schools.

It also rejected a prayer by some appellants for a stay on the order.

In May 2022, Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay, who recently resigned from the post, joined BJP and contesting this Lok Sabha elections from the Tamluk constituency in Bengal in the party ticket had asked the CBI and ED to probe alleged irregularities in the appointment of Group C and Group D school employees.

Nearly seven months later In February and March 2023 Justice Gangopadhyay directed the state School Service Commission to cancel the appointments of the non-teaching employees who were recruited illegally and fill the vacancies from the list of genuine candidates.

Justice Biswajit Basu of the same court had ordered the termination of some secondary school teachers following similar complaints.

Against all these termination orders, the state government, the SSC, and a number of candidates moved the division bench headed by Justice Subrata Talukdar.

The division bench upheld the order passed by Justice Gangopadhyay.

Following this the state government, SSC and the aggrieved teachers moved the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court sent the cases back to the Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court and asked him to set up a special division bench to hear the appeals.

Chief Justice T.S. Sivagnanam constituted the bench headed by Justice Basak to dispose of the appeals. This bench started hearing the appeals on December 5, 2023 and the hearing ended in March this year.

Also read: West Bengal: Massive teacher recruitment drive

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