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Bengal govt moves SC after Calcutta HC nullifies appointment of over 25,000 teachers, non-teaching staff

The Calcutta High Court nullified all appointments made through the recruitment process of the State Level Selection Test-2016 (SLST) in government-sponsored and aided schools in West Bengal, declaring it as “null and void”.

Edited By: Arushi Jaiswal @JaiswalArushi New Delhi Published on: April 24, 2024 16:43 IST
West Bengal govt, Supreme Court
Image Source : PTI (FILE) West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee

West Bengal teacher recruitment scam: The West Bengal government has moved the Supreme Court against the Calcutta High Court order nullifying the appointments of 25,753 teachers and non-teaching staff made through the recruitment process of the State Level Selection Test-2016 (SLST) in state-run and state-aided schools.

Challenging the high court order, the state government argued in its appeal filed before the top court that the HC's cancellation of the appointments was done "arbitrarily".

"The high court failed to appreciate the ramification of cancelling the entire selection process leading to straightaway termination of teaching and non-teaching staff from service with immediate effect, without giving sufficient time to the petitioner state to deal with such an exigency, rendering the education system at a stand-still," the plea said.

Calcutta HC declares 'null and void' 2016 teacher recruitment test

The Calcutta High Court had on Monday declared the selection process as "null and void" and directed the CBI to probe the appointment process. It had also asked the central agency to submit a report within three months.

The bench also mandated the West Bengal School Service Commission (SSC) to commence a new recruitment process. The SLST-2016 saw participation from over 23 lakh candidates vying for 24,640 available positions.

The high court directed individuals who were appointed outside the officially available 24,640 vacancies, those appointed after the expiration of the official recruitment date, and those who submitted blank Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) sheets but still obtained appointments, to return all remunerations and benefits received by them. Additionally, they were instructed to pay 12 per cent interest per annum within four weeks.

Observing that it has given "anxious consideration to the passionate plea" that persons who had obtained the appointments legally would be prejudiced if the entire selection process is cancelled, the bench said it hardly had any choice left.

The high court held that all appointments involved were violative of Articles 14 (equality before law) and 16 (prohibiting discrimination in employment in any government office) of the Constitution. "It is shocking that, at the level of the cabinet of the State Government, a decision is taken to protect employment obtained fraudulently in a selection process conducted by SSC for state-funded schools, knowing fully well that, such appointments were obtained beyond the panel and after expiry of the panel, at the bare minimum," the high court had said.

It said unless "there is a deep connection between the persons perpetuating the fraud and the beneficiaries" with persons involved in the decision-making process, such action to create supernumerary posts to protect illegal appointments is "inconceivable".

The division bench had also rejected a prayer by some appellants, including the West Bengal School Service Commission (SSC), for a stay on the order and asked the commission to initiate a fresh appointment process within a fortnight from the date of the results of the ongoing Lok Sabha elections.

The bench, constituted by the Chief Justice of the high court on a direction of the Supreme Court, had heard 350 petitions and appeals relating to the selection of candidates for appointment by the SSC in the categories of teachers of classes 9, 10, 11 and 12 and group-C and D staffers through the SLST-2016.

In its 282-page judgment, the high court had said retaining appointees selected through "such a dubious process" would be contrary to public interest.

Mamata Banerjee on HC verdict 

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee criticised the Calcutta High Court's decision to cancel all appointments made through the 2016 teacher recruitment test, terming it as "illegal." She also said that her government will challenge the verdict.

Banerjee, while addressing an election rally at Raiganj in North Bengal, said “The court verdict cancelling all recruitments is illegal. We stand by those who lost jobs. We will ensure you get justice, and challenge the order in a higher court.” 

Later, addressing another rally at Karandighi, Banerjee asserted, "It is not mandatory to accept all verdicts. We will challenge the order in the Supreme Court. This order was passed as per the BJP's instructions amid the elections."

Banerjee reassured teachers, stating they shouldn't worry and emphasising her support for them in all circumstances. She further mentioned that her government has an additional 10 lakh job opportunities ready.

Accusing the saffron party of manipulating the judicial system, Banerjee said, "It has turned the courts into their extended party offices. If the BJP files a PIL, prompt action is taken and people are sent to jail. No action is initiated when others file.”

(With PTI inputs)

Also Read: Calcutta HC declares 'null and void' 2016 teacher recruitment test, Mamata Banerjee calls verdict 'illegal'

Also Read: Lok Sabha Elections 2024: BJP will stop TMC's cut money culture and corruption in Bengal, says Amit Shah

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