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regular-article-logo Friday, 31 May 2024

Failed test: Editorial on Calcutta High Court’s ruling in the teacher recruitment scam

Mr Abhijit Gangopadhyay, who resigned as judge and joined the Bharatiya Janata Party last month to become the party candidate from Tamluk, has called for the guilty to be hanged

The Editorial Board Published 24.04.24, 07:55 AM
Calcutta High Court.

Calcutta High Court. File Photo

The recent Calcutta High Court judgment in the case of illegal recruitment of teachers in West Bengal’s government-aided schools nullified all the appointments resulting from the 2016 School Service Commission test. This is close to 26,000 teachers and non-teaching staff. Earlier, the former judge of the Calcutta High Court, Abhijit Gangopadhyay, found a cash-for-jobs nexus which he had handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation for inquiry. The CBI uncovered irregularities in 5000 teaching and non-teaching appointments that implied the involvement of the government and the SSC. In its latest judgment, the high court stated that the non-cooperation of the relevant authorities had made it impossible to distinguish between proper and irregular appointments. The court also itemised the procedural flaws. The SSC claimed, however, that it was acting on the data given by the CBI. The court ordered that those who were recruited after the merit panel had expired would have to return their entire salary within a month with interest.

This provides an enormous fillip to the Bharatiya Janata Party and its campaign against corruption in the middle of the Lok Sabha elections. Its rivals in the Opposition in West Bengal, the Congress and the Communist Party of India (Marxist), have joined it in demanding the removal of the government and the chief minister’s resignation. Mr Gangopadhyay, who resigned as judge and joined the BJP last month to become the party candidate from Tamluk, has called for the guilty to be hanged. Meanwhile the chief minister, Mamata Banerjee, responded to the order by declaring that the government’s efforts to increase employment were being blocked by the BJP’s conniving, part of which was allegedly the legal route. She recalled the quick change of Mr Gangopadhyay from judge to BJP candidate, and expressed surprise that a state BJP leader had recently warned of an explosion for the government this week. A major thrust of Ms Banerjee’s argument was humanitarian: at least 1.5 lakh people had been endangered, since many of those sacked were single earners. She promised to stand by these candidates and said that the government would appeal in the Supreme Court. Illegality and bribes are unacceptable, but it is a pity that the timing of the judgment should have made it a reference point in a raging political battle.

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