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

The Calcutta High Court has cancelled the 2016 teacher recruitment panel formed by the Bengal Commission. This decision impacts approximately 25,753 individuals who were appointed through this process.

Edited By: Arushi Jaiswal @JaiswalArushi Kolkata Published on: April 22, 2024 16:56 IST
Mamata Banerjee, Calcutta High Court
Image Source : PTI (FILE) West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee

West Bengal teacher recruitment scam: In a big setback to the Mamata Banerjee government, the Calcutta High Court on Monday issued a directive nullifying 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”.

In addition to nullifying the appointments, a division bench consisting of justices Debangsu Basak and Md Shabbar Rashidi instructed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to conduct a thorough investigation into the appointment process. The CBI is required to submit its findings 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.

Firdaus Shamim, representing some of the petitioners, stated that a total of 25,753 appointment letters were issued for the vacancies. Additionally, the division bench dismissed a request by certain appellants for a stay on the order.

The division bench, formed by the Chief Justice of the high court on a direction of the Supreme Court, had extensively heard numerous 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.

The central probe agency has arrested former state education minister Partha Chatterjee and some functionaries, who held positions in the West Bengal School Service Commission (SSC) when the alleged scam took place.

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.”

Will challenge HC order: School Service Commission chief

Siddharth Majumder, Chairman of the West Bengal School Service Commission (SSC), said that it will challenge the High Court's ruling to nullify all appointments made through the 2016 teacher recruitment test. "The court has nullified about 24,000 jobs and we will approach the Supreme Court, after going through the complete high court order,” Majumder told reporters here.

"We will go through the 300-page order... discuss and understand the legal aspects,” Majumder said in response to queries on what steps the commission would take in the wake of the verdict.

(With PTI inputs)

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