Monday, June 24, 2024

West Bengal teacher recruitment scam: HC cancels all appointments, over 25k jobs axed

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The Calcutta High Court on Monday declared as null and void the recruitment process of State Level Selection Test-2016 (SLST) in West Bengal government-sponsored and aided schools, ordering cancellation of all appointments made through it.

Over 23 lakh candidates had appeared for the 2016 SLST for 24,640 vacant posts.. (HT PHOTO.)

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.

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The bench directed the West Bengal School Service Commission to initiate a fresh appointment process.

Over 23 lakh candidates had appeared for the SLST-2016 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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