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SSC recruitment scam: Calcutta HC orders termination of 36000 primary school teachers

In a major setback to the Mamata Banerjee-led government in West Bengal, the Calcutta High Court on Friday news-jobs-of-36000-primary-teachers-canceled-in-bengal-calcutta-high-court-big-decision-1859678.html” target=”_blank” rel=”noreferrer noopener”>ordered the cancellation of jobs of 36,000 illegally appointed untrained primary school teachers in state-run schools over the SSC recruitment scam.

The court cancelled the jobs saying that they were procured illegally adopting unfair means. A total of 42,500 primary teachers were recruited through the recruitment process in 2016 following the 2014 TET. The court found that many of them didn’t clear the TET exam and didn’t undergo training, and therefore the recruitment of 36,000 teachers has been cancelled by the court.

This is the fourth order of sacking of teachers by Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay so far. Prior to this, many candidates news/teachers-scam-calcutta-hc-directs-service-termination-for-143-primary-teachers/articleshow/96741030.cms” target=”_blank” rel=”noreferrer noopener”>faced termination of services in the state. However, this is the largest number of job cancellations so far in the teacher recruitment corruption case. 

The single-judge bench of Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay latest-eng-news-1591001″ target=”_blank” rel=”noreferrer noopener”>said that all these teachers could return to school for the next four months, however, during that period they will be entitled to the salary of para-teachers instead of regular teachers.

The court further said that the West Bengal Board of Primary Education (WBBPE) should arrange for the appointment of trained teachers on the basis of merit. This should be completed within three months, said Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay, adding that the entire process of recruitment should be videographed.

If any one of these 36,000 candidates completes the necessary training in the interim, he or she will be qualified to sit for exams during the following recruitment round.

The court further observed that if WBBPE wishes, it could recover the cost for conducting fresh recruitment exams from Trinamool Congress legislator and former President of WBBPE, Manik Bhattacharya, who is currently in judicial custody for his alleged involvement in the SSC recruitment scam.

The court took the testimonies of teachers who passed the TET exam in 2014, and several irregularities were found during the hearing. It was found that aptitude tests were not taken for a large number of candidates. In some cases, appointments were made without following reservation norms. Similarly, candidates having training were rejected and those without training were selected.

What is the Bengal Teacher SSC recruitment scam?

The West Bengal Teacher’s recruitment scam, more commonly referred to as the SSC scam, looks into the recruitment process conducted through the State Level Selection Test (SLT) conducted by SSC from 2014 to 2016.

The West Bengal School Service Commission (SSC) announced in 2014 that teachers would be hired at state-run schools in West Bengal through the State Level Selection Test (SLST), which is when the alleged scam first surfaced. In 2016, the hiring process got underway. At that time, Partha Chatterjee was the Minister-in-Charge of the West Bengal Department of Higher Education and School Education. Nevertheless, a number of complaints were submitted to the Calcutta High Court citing irregularities in the hiring procedure.

The petitioners alleged that many examinees who got lesser marks ranked high on the merit list. Several claims also surfaced regarding the receipt of appointment letters by some applicants who weren’t even on the merit list.

In a separate, but related instance, the Bengal government had in 2016 sent the School Service Commission (SSC) notification for the hiring of 13,000 Group D staff in government-run or aided schools. Interestingly, the tenure of the panel responsible for said recruitment expired in 2019, but several petitioners alleged that recruitment had taken place despite the expiry of the panel’s tenure and as many as 25 persons were allegedly appointed by the WBBSE.

However, when the case came up for hearing, the petitioners alleged that not 25 but over 500 people were appointed after the SSC panel’s expiration and were now receiving salaries from the state government.

Soon a CBI probe was launched in the case following an order by the Calcutta High Court bench of Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay. The court ordered the agency to interrogate the former chairman of the SSC advisory committee, SP Sinha, and other former members of the panel.

The court had asked the CBI to file a report after interrogating the former members. In April, the CBI also registered an FIR against West Bengal Directorate of School Education former deputy director Alok Kumar Sarkar and unidentified officials of the SSC.

In May this year, the Central Investigation Bureau (CBI) filed an FIR against West Bengal Education Minister Paresh Adhikari and his daughter Ankita Adhikari. The case was registered after the father-daughter duo skipped the CBI summon deadline that was set by the Calcutta High Court. Adhikari was summoned for illegally recruiting teachers in government-aided schools and also for allotting a job to his daughter despite her absence from the merit list.

In the same month, CBI also quizzed Partha Chatterjee as the alleged recruitment scam had taken place when he was the education minister.

Later, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) also joined CBI to jointly investigated the scam. While the CBI is probing the criminal aspect of the recruitment scam, the ED is investigating the money laundering aspects.

As a part of the inquiry into the money laundering aspect of the SSC recruiting scandal, ED, in July last year, raided Partha Chatterjee’s premises and arrested him for swindling money worth crores in the form of bribes taken during his tenure as the state education minister. Several TMC ministers have since then been arrested for their alleged involvement in the multi-crore scam.

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