Odisha: Junior teachers’ recruitment norm declared illegal

Based on the CBT, the state government shall fix first set of cut-off marks category-wise and subject-wise taking into account total number of posts advertised and the marks secured by the respective candidates.
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CUTTACK: The Orissa High Court on Tuesday declared as illegal the Sub Para 8.3 of the resolution the state School and Mass Education department had passed on August 22, 2023 as the guideline for recruitment of over 18,000 junior teachers in the primary and upper primary schools in different districts.

The division bench of Chief Justice Chakradhari Sharan Singh and Justice MS Raman ruled that the Sub Para 8.3 violates Article 14 and 16 of the Constitution of India as it gives precedence to district preference of candidates over merit.

“The prescription (Sub Para 8.3) does not have any legal justification, rather it defeats the very object to attract the best talent among the successful candidates. Such provision results in discrimination in selection of meritorious candidates for the post of teachers to ensure good quality of elementary education confirming to the standards and norms,” the division bench observed.

Earlier on March 12, the single judge bench of Justice BP Satapathy had quashed the draft merit list published by the Odisha School Education Programme Authority (OSEPA) on January 15, 2024 after several unsuccessful aspirants challenged it. While the state government took the stand that merit is the sole criterion for selection of teachers, Justice Satapathy held it not acceptable as it runs contrary to the provisions contained under Sub Para 8.3 of the Resolution. The judge had further directed OSEPA to come up with a fresh draft merit list adhering to the guidelines in the August 22, 2023 resolution.

The state government had then filed a writ appeal against the order. The division bench while disposing of the appeal, however, refrained from declaring the recruitment process of the junior teachers illegal. “We deem it expedient in the interest of justice in the given fact and circumstances of the case to resolve the absurd situation arising out of the stipulation in Sub Para 8.3 in resolution dated August 23, 2023,” it said.

Accordingly, the bench modified the order of the single judge and issued a set of directions for the selection process. “No illegality has been noticed in the Computer Based Test (CBT) held by OSEPA. Therefore, the marks scored by the aspirants the CBT shall be the basis of determination of their merit,” the division bench directed.

Based on the CBT, the state government shall fix first set of cut-off marks category-wise and subject-wise taking into account total number of posts advertised and the marks secured by the respective candidates. “Select list shall be prepared of such candidates having secured the cut off marks or above. The preference given by the candidates at the time of submission of application shall be considered for allocation of districts based on merit-cum-preference,” the bench specified.

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