The Calcutta High Court has ordered the cancellation of appointment of around 36,000 candidates who were untrained at the time of their recruitment as primary teachers in West Bengal government-sponsored and -aided schools, as the due procedure was not followed in the appointment process.
Passing the order, Justice Abhijit Gangopadhay observed that “corruption of this magnitude” was never known in the state of West Bengal.
“The appointment of all 36,000 (more or less) candidates who were untrained at the time of recruitment in 2016 recruitment process conducted by the Board in the post of primary teachers are cancelled,” Justice Gangopadhyay directed.
Justice Gangopadhay, in the 17-page order uploaded in the high court’s website after 11 pm, said that the allegation that there was no aptitude test has been proved before him from the evidence of the candidates and the interviewers.
From the gross illegality in the selection procedure in the recruitment exercise of 2016 conducted by the West Bengal Board of Primary Education, it is clear that the board and its officials including its former president Manik Bhattacharya, who is now in custody after arrest by the Enforcement Directorate for the alleged transaction of huge money in the recruitment procedure, conducted the “whole affair like that of a local club”. The court directed that the West Bengal Board of Primary Education will immediately arrange for a recruitment exercise within three months only for the candidates who participated in the 2016 appointment process. Candidates who have obtained training qualifications in the meantime will also be included in the exercise.
The court directed that in the exercise, both the interview and aptitude test of all examinees will be taken and the whole interview process has to be videographed carefully and preserved.
Justice Gangopadhyay directed that the recruitment process will be under the same rules and legal procedures under which the 2016 recruitment process was conducted.
The court said that no new or any other candidate will be allowed to take part in the recruitment exercise.
Justice Gangopadhyay directed that the primary teachers who are employed in primary schools against the recommendation of the Board in respect of the 2016 selection process will be allowed to work for a period of four months from this date at the remuneration equal to a para teacher of primary school.
The court said that if any of such teachers are recommended again by the board after the selection process, those candidates will work in the schools where they are working now and they will get notional benefit of their seniority with no monetary benefit at all and the salary of primary teachers for the coming four months will not be given to them if they are employed again.
The court directed that services of the present employed candidates who will not succeed in the selection process will be “terminated.” He stated that if any candidate who appeared in the 2016 recruitment process has crossed the age bar in the meantime or will cross the age bar within three months from date, will be allowed to take part in the recruitment exercise.
“Crossing the age bar now will not create any impediment for them to participate and get selected in the recruitment process,” Justice Gangopadhyay said.
Stating that the board placed some judgement before him in support of the niceties of legal principles, the judge said that he finds that these have no applicability in the face of the “magnitude of stinking corruption in the recruitment exercise of 2016 conducted by the Board”. The writ application was filed by 140 petitioners who were qualified in Teacher Eligibility Test (TET) 2014 and participated in the 2016 recruitment process but did not get an appointment.
A total of around 42,500 candidates were selected in the recruitment process, of which around 6,500 were trained candidates.
The recruitment process was held by the West Bengal Board of Primary Education which was to be held in accordance with West Bengal Board of Primary School Teachers Recruitment Rules 2016, the court noted.
The court said that from the pleadings of the petitioners it is found that they wanted marks of last empanelled candidates of different categories like SC, ST, OBC, etc, but no such particulars were supplied and produced by the Board despite direction given by this court.
The court further said that it is “gradually coming to light by investigation of ED that jobs for primary school teachers were actually sold to some candidates who had the money to purchase the employment.”