Calcutta High Court exposes school jobs for cash scam: Appointments of 36,000 teachers quashed

The State awarded additional marks to “untrained” individuals under the guise of aptitude exams that were never even undertaken, Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay stated, and thus breached the procedure of law.

Over 36,000 teachers who were appointed in 2016 throughout the State without following the proper procedure had their appointments revoked by the Calcutta High Court on Friday. Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay, a single judge, said that he could smell “stinking rats” in the school jobs for pay recruiting fraud. The State’s arguments, which focused on legal issues rather than refuting the claims of corruption, were rejected by the judge.

“The appointment of all 36,000 (thirty six thousand) (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, however nice or however laudable those principles may be, this court as a court of justice will fail to deliver justice, knowing fully well that sense of justice is much above sense of law, if the writ application is thrown out on such nicities of law as this will mean that in the name of preserving the law the corruption would be protected which a constitutional court can never do keeping in mind the soul of our constitution and the constitutional conscience, I must say that in this recruitment scam stinking rats are being smelt.”

Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay

Thousands of “untrained” individuals were hired in the 2016 recruitment process despite having lower scores on the Teachers Eligibility Test (TET) and other counts, it was reported before the court that was investigating unlawful recruitment in West Bengal schools.

The Court stated that in aptitude tests that were conducted purely on paper, individuals who had lower scores were awarded extra marks or maximum marks in order to be hired. The judge pointed out that there was no selection committee constituted for the purpose of choosing suitable candidates; rather, it was carried out by a single external agency, a third party that was in no way associated with the Education Board. As a result, it cancelled all 36,000 appointments for applicants who required training at the time of the 2016 recruitment process.

“This is clear violation of Recruitment Rules. The Board has maintained total silence in this regard. From the gross illegality in the selection procedure in the recruitment exercise of 2016 conducted by the Board it is clear that the Board and its officials including its former President (Manik Bhattacharya), who is now in custody after arrest by Enforcement Directorate for transaction of huge money in the recruitment procedure, conducted the whole affair like affair of a local club.”

It went on to say that it has now gradually come to light via ED probe that posts for teachers in primary schools were really sold to some candidates who had the money for purchasing the same by paying bribes.

The judge stated, “a corruption of this magnitude was never known in the State of West Bengal. The former Education Minister, the former President of the Board and a number of middleman through whom the jobs were sold like a commodity are now behind the bars and the CBI and ED investigation is being continued now in full swing.”

Additionally, the bench declined to make reference to any of the rulings that the State had referenced in an effort to have the petition challenging the 2016 recruitment of primary school teachers dismissed. Because they are “bright stars of the space much much above the ground realities,” it was stated that their judgements are not necessary to be expressed at all in the factual circumstances of the case.

“The ground reality is wherein the unemployed youths live with tears in their eyes because this recruitment scam is a crime against the society and also a fraud where the Board and its former Chairman was well aware of the rules of recruitment but cared a fig and started a play to hoodwink all concerned. I will only say that fraud unravels everything.”

The Board was instructed to set up a recruitment exercise right away for candidates who were untrained at the time of recruitment (including candidates who have obtained training qualifications in the interim) within 3 (three) months of the date only for the candidates who participated in the 2016 recruitment process, where both an interview and an aptitude test shall be taken, and the entire interview process must be meticulously and carefully recorded.

The petitioners were represented by lawyers Tarunjyoti Tewari, Bikramjit Dutta, and Aniruddha Tewari. The Union of India was represented by Billwadal Bhattacharya, Deputy Solicitor General, and lawyer Mary Datta. The State was represented by solicitors Sirsanya Bandyopadhyay and Arka Kumar Nandy.

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