04/24/2024, 19.31
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Job for some 24,000 teachers in West Bengal at risk over recruitment test fraud

The Calcutta High Court ordered new appointments within 15 days, directing concerned school staff to return paid salaries with interest. The State administration led by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has appealed to the Supreme Court. Some state officials have been arrested on corruption charges, while assets worth millions of rupees have been confiscated.

Kolkata (AsiaNews) – The West Bengal government went before the Supreme Court of India this morning after the Calcutta High Court decided to cancel the school job recruitment selection of 2016. More than 24,000 teaching and non-teaching staff are at risk of losing their job.

Earlier this week, the court declared null and void the 2016 selection process, directed the School Service Commission, which handles recruitment, to make new appointments within 15 days, and ordered the staff to return the salary they received within six weeks, plus interest.

In 2014 the West Bengal government announced that it would recruit public school staff through competitive examinations.

After the State Level Selection Test was held, several candidates reported a series of irregularities, complaining that some people with low scores ranked higher while some applicants who were not even in the merit list still got an appointment letter.

The case was front-page news in July 2022, when a former West Bengal Education Minister, Partha Chatterjee, was arrested.

Before he joined the Trinamool Congress, the party led by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, he was a member of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Chatterjee is suspected, along with others, of receiving kickbacks from people who were then fraudulently hired.

During its investigation, the Enforcement Directorate (ED), the Indian government agency that deals with financial fraud, seized several million rupees and jewels, found in the residence of one of Chatterjee's closest associates. Several properties and land worth hundreds of millions of rupees were also confiscated by the ED.

In a related case, the School Service Commission has been accused of hiring primary school teachers who had failed the eligibility test.

Local media report that after the test, the Calcutta High Court received about 500 petitions alleging corruption in the state commission. Some of the candidates allegedly submitted blank exam papers, with only their personal details.

An advisor to the School Service Commission and an alleged middleman were arrested earlier this month and are currently in custody.

For some observers, the case is likely to have negative repercussions for the local administration, in particular Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who has so far stated that teachers affected by the court's ruling will receive support from the state (it is not clear if it will financial as well).

“We will stand by those who lost jobs," said the Trinamool Congress leader, adding that the BJP, which is hoping for a victory in the current national elections, has influenced the judiciary and the outcome of the rulings.

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