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Calcutta HC Cancels 2016 Teachers’ Recruitment Due To Scam

On Monday, the Calcutta High Court, in a significant blow to the West Bengal government, cancelled the 2016 recruitment panel for school teachers constituted by the West Bengal School Service Commission (WBSSC), nullifying nearly 24,000 job appointments. The court’s order comes in the wake of the state’s highly publicized teachers’ recruitment scam.

During the hearing, a division bench comprising Justices Debangsu Basak and Md Shabbar Rashidi ruled that illegally recruited teachers must return their salaries within four weeks. The district magistrates have been tasked with collecting the money from these teachers, who were appointed through an improper process using blank OMR sheets.

The cancelled recruitment panel includes all teaching and non-teaching staff appointments made through the WBSSC’s 2016 entrance examination for various state-government-sponsored and aided schools across West Bengal.

In a significant directive, the bench has ordered the re-evaluation of as many as 23 lakh OMR sheets from the recruitment entrance exam conducted in 2016. It also rejected requests for a stay on the order and instructed the CBI to undertake further investigations into the appointment process, submitting a report within three months.

The WBSSC has been directed to initiate fresh recruitment proceedings to fill vacant positions.

The 2016 State Level Selection Test (SLST) conducted by the WBSSC had attracted over 23 lakh candidates vying for over 24,000 vacant posts across the state. Hundreds of job aspirants awaiting the verdict outside the court premises rejoiced upon hearing the cancellation order.

The case has its roots in allegations of irregularities and corruption in the teachers’ recruitment process, which led to a CBI probe on the orders of the Calcutta High Court. The federal agency even arrested former state Education Minister Partha Chatterjee in 2022 for his alleged links to the scam.

With the entire 2016 panel now invalid, the Calcutta High Court’s judgment delivers a significant blow to the West Bengal government and the WBSSC, which now face the mammoth task of re-conducting the recruitment process transparently to fill the thousands of vacant teaching positions across state schools.

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