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Teacher merit list must

Calcutta High Court. File picture

Calcutta: Counselling sessions to select teachers for Classes XI and XII in state-aided schools in Bengal cannot be held until the West Bengal School Service Commission publishes the merit list, Calcutta High Court ordered on Thursday.

"Fixing a date for counselling of candidates before publication of the merit list is illegal. So the SSC is directed to publish the merit list first and then hold the counselling," Justice S.B. Saraf said while hearing a petition filed by some aspirants.

The counselling was scheduled to start on July 16. Ashis Chakrabarty, the commission's counsel, told the court the merit list was almost ready and "it can be published even today".

Teacher recruitment holds high stakes in job-starved Bengal as it is the single largest avenue for jobs in the absence of industrialisation.

The examination in question was held in 2016 and the personality tests of shortlisted candidates in 2017 to select teachers for as many as 6,000-odd higher secondary schools.

Several aspirants suspect that in the absence of a merit list, political influence plays a part in the last mile of the appointment process.

But the state government says it did not publish the list till now in order to avoid a repeat of 2014. A merit list of nearly 1.5 lakh candidates was published then against 48,000-odd vacancies in teaching posts for Classes V to XII.

A large number of candidates who did not get jobs although their names had appeared on the merit list had filed cases in the high court demanding they be appointed. Most of these cases are still pending.

On Thursday, advocate Sutanu Patra, who appeared for the candidates, said: "The SSC has not published any merit list. This procedure may have been adopted to pick candidates of the ruling party's choice. Before appearing for the counselling, the candidates should be informed of their position on the merit list."

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