Bengal school jobs scam: SC extends stay order on CBI probe till May 7

West Bengal government had moved the SC against the Calcutta HC's order invalidating and cancelling the appointment of 25,753 teachers.
Supreme Court of India
Supreme Court of IndiaFile Photo | PTI

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday extended its earlier order and asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) not to take any coercive action till May 7 (Tuesday) and continued its stay of the CBI probe against West Bengal government officers.

The matter had to defer its hearing due to paucity of time. It will be heard by the bench led by the CJI DY Chandrachud on May 7.

West Bengal government on April 24 had moved the top court by filing an appeal against the Calcutta High Court's order invalidating and cancelling the appointment of 25,753 teachers made by the state's School Service Commission (SSC) in state-run schools.

Challenging the Calcutta HC's order, the state government, in its appeal filed before the top court, said the HC cancelled the appointments "arbitrarily", without any proper reasoning.

In its last hearing on April 29, the apex court also took a humanitarian approach, and observed that taking away of jobs of about 25,000 persons was a serious thing however, it also maintained that the beneficiaries of the fraud have to be identified.

The top court, besided the CJI Chandrachud, also comprised of Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, passed the interim order on April 29, after hearing the appeal filed by the state government.

Supreme Court of India
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The top court, however, refused to stay the Calcutta HC's order to cancel about 25,000 appointments made in 2016.

It is to be noted that around 23 lakh candidates appeared in the teacher's examinations for the 25,000 job vacancies in 2016. It had been alleged before the High Court that most candidates were given jobs after wrongly evaluating the OMR Sheets.

The High Court Bench of Justices Debangsu Basak and Md Shabbar Rashidi, in its order, declared the State Level Selection Test-2016 (SLST) recruitment procedure "null and void". The court had thus ordered the cancellation of all appointments made through the procedure in the government-sponsored and aided institutions in the East-Indian state.

Challenging the Calcutta high court's order, the state government, in its appeal filed before the top court, said the HC cancelled the appointments "arbitrarily", and without any proper reasoning.

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"The high court had erred in its order. It fails to appreciate the ramification of cancelling the entire selection process leading to straightaway termination of teaching and non-teaching staff from service with immediate effect, without giving sufficient time to the petitioner state to deal with such an exigency, rendering the education system at a stand-still," the plea of the state government, filed in the top court, said.

The West Bengal teachers' scam involves around the selection for assistant teachers for classes 9th-10th and 11th-12th and Group C (clerks) and D posts in the state. Candidates had to undergo a teacher eligibility test (TET), an interview, and a personality test. The selection of the teachers was based on a combination of their TET scores, academic marks, interview performance, and personality test results.

But the HC, after finding that due process was not followed in the teachers appointment process, it cancelled the entire procedure of appointment.

The Calcutta High Court in its order had directed the CBI to investigate the case, including matching of hard disks with the SSC database after the original OMR sheets were reportedly destroyed.

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