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24,000 candidates lose jobs as West Bengal HC cancels all appointments: WB teacher recruitment scam explained

NEW DELHI: The

Calcutta High Court

issued a decision on Monday in the

West Bengal School Service Commission

(

SSC

) recruitment scam case. In its decision, the state’s highest court invalidated the appointment of nearly 24,000 teachers, and non-teaching staff. The court specifically cancelled all

appointments

for teaching and non-teaching staff made through the 2016 state-level exams in state-sponsored and aided schools.

A division bench of Justices Debangsu Basak and Md Shabbar Rashidi also ordered the cancellation and directed the CBI to conduct further investigation into the appointment process. They also asked for a report from the CBI within three months.
What is the scam?
In 2014, the West Bengal School Service Commission (SSC) announced that the

State Level Selection Test

(SLST) would be used to recruit teachers for West Bengal’s state-run schools.

The actual recruitment process began in 2016. However, this process was met with numerous challenges, including several petitions filed in the Calcutta High Court alleging irregularities in the recruitment process.
The petitioners claimed that many candidates who received lower grades were placed higher on the merit list, raising concerns about the fairness of the selection process. Furthermore, there were allegations that individuals who did not even make the merit list received appointment letters.

A second case
In another case, in 2016, the West Bengal government directed the School Service Commission to hire approximately 13,000 Group-D employees for state-run and government-aided schools. By 2019, the panel tasked with making these appointments had expired.
During the hearing, it was claimed by the petitioners that the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education (WBBSE) hired at least 25 people for these positions. The petitioners also claimed that after the SSC panel expired, over 500 people were appointed and are now receiving salaries from the state government.
The story so far
A

CBI investigation

was launched in response to an order from the Calcutta High Court bench of Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay. In 202, the investigation focused on the appointment of 269 primary school teachers in Bengal government-sponsored and aided schools, which were deemed illegal because the candidates allegedly did not pass the Teachers Eligibility Test (TET). The CBI’s FIR alleged irregularities in the TET 2014 primary selection process, claiming that incorrect questions and answer keys were used to exclude eligible candidates.
It was also claimed that some ineligible TET 2014 candidates were appointed as Assistant Teachers, with candidates who submitted blank exam papers receiving appointments. The agency also claims that an additional panel was formed, which included people who failed the TET-2014 exam. This process has been criticised for displaying favouritism and nepotism.
Justice Gangopadhyay directed Bengal Industries and Commerce Minister Partha Chatterjee, who previously held the education portfolio, to appear before the CBI for questioning. The

Enforcement Directorate

is conducting a separate investigation into alleged

money laundering

linked to the

teacher recruitment scam

. While the CBI investigates the criminal aspect, the ED tracks the money trail. The financial investigation agency has filed two FIRs in connection with the case.
Recent developments in the case
Earlier in April, the Enforcement Directorate attached over Rs 230 crore worth of properties belonging to former adviser to the WB SSC – Shanti Prasad Sinha and an alleged middleman Prassanna Roy. Both had been arrested and sent to judicial custody. Middleman Roy was involved in the alleged collection of money and details from candidates, according to the ED, as reported by TOI.
ALSO READ: ED attaches Rs 230 crore assets in Bengal teacher job scam
The primary teachers recruitment scam in the state has seen significant action from the Enforcement Directorate (ED), with properties worth Rs 135 crore already attached or seized. This brings the total attachment in the two teachers recruitment scams to over Rs 365 crore.
The attached assets include 96 cottah land in Patharghata, 117 cottah in Sultanpur, 282 cottah in Maheshtala, and 136 cottah in New Town, all of which are associated with Roy and his shell entities.
What lies ahead
Following the West Bengal School Service Commission (WB SSC) recruitment scam case, the Calcutta High Court issued comprehensive directives for all. The court has ordered that the School Service Commission (SSC) conduct new recruitments for the affected posts. Those who were improperly appointed have been ordered to repay their salaries within six weeks.
Furthermore, the High Court has directed the West Bengal School Service Commission to initiate new appointments within the next 15 days. This decision affects over 23 lakh candidates who took the 2016 State Level Selection Test (SLST) for 24,640 vacant teaching and non-teaching positions.
(With agency inputs)