Order to cancel selection of 2200 schoolteachers
|OUR LEGAL REPORTER|
Calcutta, March 1: Calcutta High Court today asked the government to cancel the appointment of 2,200 primary school teachers in undivided Midnapore in 1996 on the ground that they were either under-qualified or were given preference over more qualified candidates.
Justice Harish Tandon said in his verdict that the 2,200 teachers were selected from an "erroneous panel" and directed the school education department to prepare a fresh list incorporating the names of the eligible candidates among the 82 petitioners, who had alleged that the appointments were "politically motivated". He said fresh appointments to all 2,200 posts would have to be made by June 12.
"The state is directed to file a compliance report before this court by June 12," Justice Tandon said.
In 1993, the district primary school council of undivided Midnapore had prepared the list of 2,200 candidates to appoint them in primary schools across the district.
Susmita Bhowmik and 81 others had moved a writ petition the same year challenging the legality of the selection. "CPM cadres who were under-qualified were given appointment, leaving behind eligible candidates," the petition said.
The lawyers appearing for the petitioners told the court today that their clients had "all the qualifications required to be appointed as primary school teachers". "But the panel prepared by the council included less-qualified candidates. The more qualified candidates were deprived. The names of only those who owed allegiance to the (then) ruling party had figured on the list. The selection was politically motivated," advocate Siraj Gooptu said.
In 1993, the high court had appointed a special officer to probe the selection procedure. In the report submitted the same year, it was mentioned that most of the selected candidates did not meet the eligibility criteria of first division in Madhyamik or higher second division in the higher secondary exams. No test used to be held then to recruit primary teachers. The candidates were selected on the basis of their marks in the two school exams.
Justice Dilip Basu, the judge hearing the case in 1993, had scrapped the panel and asked the council to prepare a fresh one comprising eligible candidates.
In 1994, the council appealed before a division bench of the high court headed by Justice M.P. Singh. But the division bench upheld Justice Basu's verdict. The council appealed to the Supreme Court the next year but there too, it lost the case.
Gooptu said that on the basis of the apex court order in 1996, the council prepared a fresh list by merely "re-arranging the existing names". Those selected joined work that year.
The same year, the petitioners moved a contempt petition in the high court. That case came up for hearing today after a gap of nearly 16 years.
Government pleader Ashok Banerjee did not challenge the order, saying: "The court's decision is final."
Now, the district primary school councils of West and East Midnapore will have to issue ads inviting those who had applied for the primary teacher posts in 1993 to re-apply. Those whose appointments were scrapped today can also apply.
The rules of selection in 1993 will be followed in the case of the new recruitments.