Shillong, Nov. 1: Political interference, nepotism, and tampering of marks have been brought to the fore by the CBI in relation to the appointment of assistant teachers in government lower primary schools, in Meghalaya.
The CBI report was prepared following a directive from Justice T. Vaiphei of the Shillong bench of Gauhati High Court. He had, on October 21, 2011, asked the investigating agency to inquire into the alleged anomalies in the appointment of the teachers.
In 2008, about 5,500 candidates had applied against 749 vacant posts of assistant teachers all over the state. An interview board was constituted in all centres across Meghalaya for selection of the candidates.
However, the CBI report, comprising 107 pages, unearthed largescale tampering in the selection and final appointment of the candidates.
The CBI had restricted its inquiry to just five out of 15 subdivisions — Shillong, Amlarem, Jowai, Tura and Dadengiri — following a directive from the court.
The order to the CBI came as Justice Vaiphei was adjudicating on a case of nine writ petitions filed by aggrieved applicants after information obtained through the RTI Act, 2005, brought to light various discrepancies and manipulation in the appointment of assistant teachers in 2009-10.
On page 101 of the report, the CBI said, “Inquiry has established that the majority of candidates in the five stations — Jowai, Shillong, Amlarem, Tura and Dadengiri — were appointed in an irregular manner by changing the original marks on account of experience, educational qualification and others in the score sheet after applying white fluid on the original marks awarded by the board. The grand total of the score sheet was also changed in a similar manner.”
However, the report also said there was no cutting or application of white fluid in the score sheets of candidates at the level of the interview boards.
The score sheets were then sent to J.D. Sangma, director elementary and mass education department, currently directorate of school education and literacy.
“In the course of his examination, J.D. Sangma said under the instruction of the then education minister Ampareen Lyngdoh, he had to change the score sheet as prepared by all the five boards duly applying white fluid on the original marks as awarded by the members of the board,” the CBI report said.
Sangma had also handed over a file containing a list received by the said minister from different persons, MLAs and ministers recommending the names of the candidates for selection as teachers.
“J.D. Sangma has further disclosed that based on the aforesaid letters and slips of paper, he, with the help of two more persons, who were supporters of the education minister, applied white fluid on the score sheet and inflated the numbers of the candidates ordered to be appointed by the education minister,” the report stated.
The CBI also found out that at least 15 ministers, MLAs and others had given their recommendations for appointment of teachers.
These include incumbent education minister Roytre C. Laloo who had recommended the names of 37 candidates, Assembly Speaker Charles Pyngrope (three candidates), deputy speaker Sanbor Shullai (four candidates), current forest minister Prestone Tynsong (20 candidates), Congress legislator Sniawbhalang Dhar (30 candidates), former MLA R.L. Tariang (29 candidates), UDP legislator Remington Pyngrope (47 candidates), current GAD minister A.L. Hek (seven candidates), Congress legislator Ronnie Lyngdoh (15 candidates), incumbent social welfare minister J.A. Lyngdoh (six candidates), Independent legislators Limison D. Sangma (37 candidates) and Donkupar Massar (two candidates) and others.
The CBI started inquiring into the allegations from November 2011 and in the meantime, the government appealed to a division bench seeking a stay on the order passed by Justice Vaiphei.
However, no stay was accorded, and the CBI went ahead with its inquiry and submitted the report to the court, containing 107 pages, on March 5.
On March 14, the Shillong bench forwarded the CBI’s inquiry report to the state education department for necessary action.
On August 16, a division bench of the Shillong bench ruled that the writ appeals of the Meghalaya government did not specifically contain any ground or prayer for quashing the CBI report on the alleged irregularities in the appointment of the schoolteachers.
The bench had also directed the government to constitute a high-level scrutiny committee of officials to scrutinise and review the records regarding the candidature of the selected and unselected candidates so as to ascertain the legality and the basis of such selection or non-selection.
It ordered that the exercise should be completed within six months from the date of passing the judgment.
“We hold that even if the direction to order a CBI inquiry was not proper under the given facts and circumstances of the present case because of the lapse of time and subsequent occurrences when the CBI inquiry report has already come to life and existence, we are not inclined to brush aside and quash the said report at this stage,” the bench stated.
“While undertaking this exercise, the authorities shall take beneficial assistance and guidance of the findings, if any, recorded legitimately by the CBI in its inquiry report,” the division bench had further said.