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regular-article-logo Monday, 27 May 2024

Calcutta High Court declares null and void 2016 recruitment test for West Bengal government sponsored, aided schools

A division bench comprising justices Debangsu Basak and Md Shabbar Rashidi also directed the CBI to undertake further investigation in respect of the appointment process, and submit a report in three months

Our Web Desk Calcutta Published 22.04.24, 11:27 AM
Calcutta High Court

Calcutta High Court File

The Calcutta High Court on Monday declared “null and void” the appointments of 25, 753 individuals made in 2016 –teachers and group-C and group-D category staff- while instructing the Central Bureau of Investigation to continue with the probe into the alleged irregularities in appointments in the education department under the Mamata Banerjee government.

The special bench comprising Justice Debangshu Basak and Justice Shabbar Rashidi has ordered the School Service Commission to start the appointment process afresh.

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The verdict – in just one of the cases of corruption in Bengal – comes just days ahead of the second phase of the Lok Sabha elections.

“The appointments were made by manipulation of the Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) sheets. Candidates who were not empanelled were appointed, appointments were made after the panel expired and rankings were also manipulated. All the appointments have been cancelled,” said Ferdous Shamim, advocate.

The bench also directed the CBI to undertake further investigation in respect of the appointment process, and submit a report in three months.

Over 23 lakh candidates had appeared for the State Level Selection Test-2016 (SLST) for 24,640 vacant posts.

A total of 25,753 appointment letters were issued against the vacancies, said Firdaus Shamim, a lawyer for some of the petitioners.

The division bench also rejected a prayer by some appellants for a stay on the order.

Moments after the high court order, hundreds of school job aspirants waiting outside its premises rejoiced, as many broke into tears.

“We had been waiting for this day. After years of struggle on the streets, justice has finally been delivered," one of them said.

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.

Hearing in the matters concluded on March 20 and judegement was reserved by the bench.

On writ petitions by some candidates who appeared in SLST-2016, but did not get jobs, a single bench presided by Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay had ordered CBI investigation into alleged irregularities in the recruitment process.

The high court had also ordered the termination of a number of jobs of teaching and non-teaching staffers after finding irregularities.

Disposing of petitions before it in connection with the matters, the Supreme Court had on November 9, 2023, requested the Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court to constitute a division bench to hear all the petitions and appeals pertaining to the recruitment process through SLST-2016 for early adjudication.

The apex court had in its order accorded protection to the appointments, which were terminated by the high court, for a period of six months to enable the division bench to adjudicate on the disputes.

The CBI had completed the investigation into the matters and submitted a report before the high court in accordance with the direction of the Supreme Court to do so within two months from the date of its order.

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.

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