The arrest of West Bengal minister Partha Chatterjee in connection with the School Service Commission (SSC) recruitment scam on Saturday is the latest development in an issue that surfaced in 2014 and, more recently, has seen nearly 500 days of sustained protests from candidates who claim that they have not got jobs despite having cleared the relevant examinations.
Apart from the Primary Teacher Eligibility Test (TET), allegations of irregularities have been made regarding recruitment of schoolteachers, even in Group C and Group D employee categories.
It was in 2014 that a notification for appointment of teachers in state-run schools in West Bengal through SLST (State Level Selection Test) for teachers was published and the recruitment process started in 2016.
However, a series of petitions were filed in the Calcutta High Court alleging “anomalies” in the recruitment process. The petitioners alleged that many candidates who got low marks ranked high in the merit list. There were also allegations that some applicants who weren’t even in the merit list received appointment letters.
In 2016, the state government issued a notification to the School Service Commission (SSC) to recruit 13,000 Group-D employees for state-run/aided schools.
In 2019, the tenure of the panel making the appointments expired. However, petitioners in the Calcutta High Court alleged that despite this, at least 25 persons were appointed by the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education through the SSC. Later, petitioners claimed that over 500 such appointments were made.
Similarly, cases were filed against the West Bengal primary education board for allegedly recruiting teachers “illegally.”
Some of the petitioners alleged that some persons had been appointed though they had not qualified in TET, 2014. For getting a job in a primary school as a teacher, a candidate must have passed the TET. The petitioners have alleged that around 23 lakh candidates appeared in TET, 2014 and a panel was published for giving appointment of nearly 42,000 candidates as primary teachers. The petitioners expressed serious suspicion about the “legality and correctness” of publication of such a panel.