Calcutta HC sets aside appointment of 36,000 'untrained' primary school teachers recruited in 2016

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Justice Gangopadhay said that corruption of this magnitude was never known in the State of West Bengal.

The Calcutta HC recently cancelled the appointment of 36,000 primary school teachers in West Bengal who were untrained at the time of recruitment.

The single judge bench of Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay said, “A corruption of this magnitude was never known in the State of West Bengal.”

Further, the bench observed that:

 "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 (who is now in custody after arrest by Enforcement Directorate for the transaction of huge money in the recruitment procedure) conducted the whole affair like affair of a local club and now it is gradually coming to light by investigation of Enforcement Directorate that jobs for primary school teachers were actually sold to some candidates who had the money to purchase the employment".

The court ordered the West Bengal Board of Primary Education to organise a new recruitment process within three months for candidates who participated in the 2016 recruitment process. No new or other candidates will be permitted to participate in such a recruitment test court-ordered.

It is required that all examinees shall undergo both an interview and an aptitude test and that the entire interview process be properly videographer and recorded, the court added.

The present writ petition was moved by 140 petitioners who qualified in the Teacher Eligibility Test 2014 (TET 2014), participated in the 2016 recruiting process, and was summoned for interviews but were not appointed.

While the court was hearing the plea, the petitioners disclosed various details gained from the Board's website that demonstrated severe irregularities in the preparation of the panel for the 2016 recruitment process, particularly with regard to untrained candidates who were hired during the 2016 recruitment process.

The petitioners requested the marks of the last empanelled candidates from various categories such as SC, ST, OBC, and so on, which the Board failed to provide or produce despite the court's direction.

“In respect of in holding of an aptitude test, the chairman of Board in his report said that aptitude tests were taken but from the evidence adduced by the interviewers and the candidates it has been proved before this court that no aptitude test was taken,” the bench said.

Justice Gangopadhyay directed that the same recruitment process will be followed as per the norms and legal procedures as the 2016 recruitment process. The court stated that no fresh or additional candidates will be permitted to participate in the recruitment process.

“If any of these teachers are recommended again by the board following the selection process, then those candidates will work in the schools where they are currently employed and will receive no monetary benefit from their seniority, and the salary of primary teachers for the next four months will not be paid to them if they are employed again,” the court mentioned.

The court directed that the services of the presently 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 the 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.

The Court also noted that despite the fact that Rule 7 of the West Bengal Board of Primary School Teachers Recruitment Rules of 2016 requires the formation of a selection committee, no such committee was formed for the purpose of selecting eligible candidates and preparing a panel of such candidates for teacher appointment.

Lastly, the judge said, “It was done by one outside agency, a third party that was not a member of the Board, and this third party was referred to as the Board's confidential section. This clearly violates the Recruitment Rules. The Board has remained completely silent.”

Case Title: Priyanka Naskar & Ors. v. The Union of India & Ors