Calcutta High Court Annuls Over 25,000 School Staff Appointments Amid Allegations of Corruption

Calcutta High Court

Kolkata: In a landmark ruling that has sent shockwaves through West Bengal’s educational sector, the Calcutta High Court has invalidated all appointments of teaching and non-teaching staff made through the 2016 state-level examination. This sweeping decision has led to the cancellation of 25,753 jobs in government-sponsored and aided secondary and higher secondary schools.

The division bench, comprising Justice Debangsu Basak and Justice Md Shabbar Rashidi, declared these appointments “null and void,” mandating a complete overhaul of the recruitment process. The court’s directive also includes a stipulation for those appointed post the expiry of the 2016 School Service Commission (SSC) panel to return their salaries with a 12% annual interest within a month to the district authorities. However, in a compassionate exemption, Soma Das, who is battling cancer, will retain her position.

The Bengal School Service Commissioner has expressed intentions to challenge the high court’s verdict in the Supreme Court.

This judicial order, spanning 281 pages, has emerged as a significant embarrassment for the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) amidst the electoral season. The 2016 State-Level Selection Test (SLST), which saw participation from over 23 lakh aspirants for 24,640 vacancies, was marred by widespread allegations of bribery and corruption. The ensuing investigation has led to the arrest of a former state minister and multiple TMC officials.

In a further development, the Calcutta High Court bench has instructed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to extend its probe into the appointment procedures and report its findings within the next three months. In line with ensuring transparency, the court has also ordered the publication of the SSC recruitment test’s answer sheets on official websites.

Calcutta High Court

The CBI’s involvement dates back to November 2021 when the Calcutta High Court first directed the agency to take charge of the investigation. Despite the West Bengal government’s initial challenge to this directive, the investigation proceeded, culminating in the high-profile arrest of former education minister Partha Chatterjee by the Enforcement Directorate in July 2022, with a subsequent discovery of Rs 21 crore in cash.