The Calcutta High Court on Thursday ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into alleged irregularities in the recruitment of teachers in state-run schools through State Level Selection Test (SLST).
This comes months after allegations of corruption in the recruitment of Group C and Group D employees in secondary and higher secondary schools under the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education (WBBSE).
What are the alleged scams?
The notification for appointment of teachers in state-run schools in West Bengal through SLST was published in 2014 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 examinees who got less 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 the second case, the West Bengal government had, in 2016, issued a notification to the School Service Commission (SSC) to recruit 13,000 Group-D employees for state-run/aided schools. In 2019, the panel making the appointments had expired, but at least 25 persons were allegedly appointed by the WBBSE.
What the High Court said
In Group C and Group D recruitment case, a single bench of the Calcutta High Court ordered a CBI enquiry.
The court said, “The record reveals the shocking state of affairs and we refrain ourselves to make any observations thereupon in the midst of an investigation/enquiry by the committee constituted by this Court.”
The court also observed, “The moment prima facie evidence has been produced raising a serious concern on the modalities of the recommendation/appointment made to the candidates not only beyond the expiration of the panel but to the candidates who were not included in the panel itself, such stand has been taken responsibilities.”
The Mamata Banerjee government, however, challenged the order before the division bench. The bench stayed the order and constituted a committee to investigate the allegations.
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The division bench sought affidavits from the SSC and WBBSE. However, both bodies gave contradictory statements.
The SSC, in its affidavit, claimed that it had made no employee recommendations, while the WBBSE said it had received the data and the persons were duly appointed. During the hearing, the petitioners claimed that not just 25 but over 500 people were appointed after the SSC panel expired, and they were now drawing salaries from the state government.
Meanwhile, in the teachers’ recruitment case, a single bench of the Calcutta High Court ordered a CBI probe. The Mamata Banerjee government will now challenge the court order before a division bench Monday.
Question marks on teachers’ appointment
The High Court’s observations in both the cases have been a cause of embarrassment for the department of school education. If the probe finds the government guilty, at least 10,000 people may lose their job. No exams have been conducted for the recruitment of teachers in state-run schools after 2016. According to sources in the West Bengal School Education Department, over 60,000 posts for the appointment of teachers are vacant at present.