Major Setback for Trinamool as 25,000 Bengal Teachers Dismissed, Ordered to Repay Salaries

In a significant blow to the Mamata Banerjee-led government, the Calcutta High Court has nullified the 2016 recruitment process for teachers in government-sponsored and aided schools. A total of 25,753 appointees are now facing job loss and have been instructed to refund the salaries they received since their appointment, along with a 12% interest, as per the court’s ruling.

A division bench comprising Justices Debangsu Basak and Md Shabbar Rashidi has directed teachers who were hired improperly, having submitted blank OMR sheets during recruitment, to repay their salaries within four weeks. District magistrates have been assigned the task of recovering these payments from the affected teachers.

However, the court has shown leniency in one case, allowing Soma Das, an appointee currently undergoing cancer treatment, to retain her job on humanitarian grounds.

The bench, formed following a directive from the Supreme Court, has also instructed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to conduct further investigation into the appointment process and submit a report within three months. Additionally, the West Bengal School Service Commission (WBSSC) has been directed to initiate a fresh recruitment process.

The state government is expected to challenge this ruling in the Supreme Court. Several leaders of the Trinamool Congress, including former education minister Partha Chatterjee, are currently incarcerated in connection with the teacher recruitment scandal.

In response to the court’s decision, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has alleged that BJP leaders are influencing the judiciary and its judgments.

The BJP in Bengal has seized on this opportunity to criticize the Trinamool government, suggesting that both Mamata Banerjee and her nephew, Abhishek Banerjee, the party’s second-in-command, are on the verge of defeat.

“The High Court has invalidated around 24,000 SSC recruitments from 2016, and the CBI can arrest anyone. This has brought smiles to many faces. This time, the nephew and his aunt will be defeated. #TMCExposed,” remarked the BJP Bengal.

According to lawyers representing some petitioners, over 23 lakh candidates appeared for the State Level Selection Test-2016 for 24,640 vacant positions. However, 25,753 appointment letters were issued, covering various teaching roles and support staff for classes 9 to 12, as well as group-C and D positions.

Previously, the Calcutta High Court had dismantled panels set up by the WBSCC in 2016, leading to the cancellation of 36,000 appointments for untrained primary teachers, which was later revised to 32,000.

Judge Abhijit Ganguly, who had ordered the CBI investigation, resigned after several clashes with the ruling Trinamool and is now a BJP candidate in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections.

Following the initial judgment, a single-judge bench later suspended the ruling pending further orders.

Last November, the Supreme Court urged the Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court to establish a division bench to hear petitions and appeals related to the recruitment case, granting six-month protection to those whose appointments had been invalidated.

Shruti Suman

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