The Calcutta High Court recently ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into alleged irregularities in the recruitment of teachers in state-run schools through State Level Test (SLST) (Teacher Recruitment Scam). Earlier the Culcutta High Court had cancelled the appointment of six assistant teachers in Murshidabad district while noting that they had been illegally appointed following the illegal recommendation of the West Bengal School Service Commission (WBSSC).
The notification for the appointment of teachers in state-run schools in West Bengal through SLST was published in 2014 and the recruitment process started in 2016. However, a series of petitions were filed in the Calcutta High Court alleging anomalies in the recruitment process. The petitioners alleged that many examinees who got fewer marks ranked high on the merit list.
There were also allegations (about Teacher Recruitment Scam) that some applicants, who were not even on the merit list, received appointment letters. In the second case, the West Bengal government had, in 2016, issued a notification to the School Service Commission (SSC) to recruit 13,000 group-D employees for state-run/aided schools.
In 2019, the panel making the appointments had expired, but at least 25 persons were allegedly appointed by WBBSE. In Group C and Group D recruitment cases, a single bench of the Calcutta High Court ordered a CBI enquiry. The West Bengal government, however, challenged the order before the division bench.
The bench stayed the order and constituted a committee to investigate the allegations about the teacher recruitment scam. The division bench sought affidavits from the SSC and WBBSE (West Bengal Board of Secondary Education) . However, both bodies gave contradictory statements. The SSC, in its affidavit, claimed that it had made no employee recommendations, while the WBBSE said it had received the data and the persons were duly appointed.
The High Court’s observations in both cases have been a cause of embarrassment for the department of school education. If the probe finds the government guilty, at least 10,000 people may lose their job. No exams have been conducted for the recruitment of teachers in state-run schools after 2016. According to sources in the West Bengal School Education Department, over 60,000 posts for the appointment of teachers are vacant at present.