Begin typing your search above and press return to search.
News Updates

SSC 'Group-D' Recruitment Scam: Calcutta HC Prohibits Payment Of Salary To 573 Illegally Appointed Candidates, Raps Enquiry Commission For Non-Filing Of Inquiry Report

Aaratrika Bhaumik
9 Feb 2022 1:29 PM GMT
SSC Group-D Recruitment Scam: Calcutta HC Prohibits Payment Of Salary To 573 Illegally Appointed Candidates, Raps Enquiry Commission For Non-Filing Of Inquiry Report
x

The Calcutta High Court on Wednesday directed the concerned District Inspectors of Schools to not pay any further salary to 573 candidates who had allegedly been appointed for the post of 'Group-D' (non-teaching staff) in sponsored Secondary and Higher Secondary schools under the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education (WBBSE) despite no such recommendation by the West Bengal Central...

The Calcutta High Court on Wednesday directed the concerned District Inspectors of Schools to not pay any further salary to 573 candidates who had allegedly been appointed for the post of 'Group-D' (non-teaching staff) in sponsored Secondary and Higher Secondary schools under the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education (WBBSE) despite no such recommendation by the West Bengal Central School Service Commission (WBSSC).

It was further ordered that the salary already paid to the 573 candidates must be recovered from from them by using the relevant laws, both civil and criminal. 

Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay was adjudicating upon a batch of petitions pertaining to the alleged irregularities in the appointment of 'Group-D' (non-teaching staff) in sponsored Secondary and Higher Secondary schools under the WBBSE on the purported recommendation by the WBSSC. 

Earlier, a Division Bench comprising Justices Harish Tandon and Rabindranath Samanta had quashed Justice Gangopadhyay's earlier order wherein a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe had been ordered into the alleged irregularities in the appointment of 'Group-D' (non-teaching staff) in sponsored Secondary and Higher Secondary schools. The Division Bench had further set up an inquiry committee headed by Justice Ranjit Kumar Bagh, former judge of the Calcutta High Court. The other members of the committee includes Asutosh Ghosh, Member of West Bengal School Service Commission, Paromita Roy, Deputy Secretary (Administration), West Bengal Board of Secondary Education and advocate Arunava Banerjee, a practicing lawyer of the High Court.

The Court on Monday placed reliance on Section 9 of the West Bengal School Service Commission Act, 1997 which mandates a recommendation by the West Bengal Central School Service Commission before the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education can make any appointments to the post of non-teaching staff in schools. Accordingly, the Court underscored, 

"From the above provision of the Act, it is clear that the appointment of the said 573 candidates are wholly invalid and have no effect for want of recommendation by the commission and, therefore, they cannot work in a school as a recommended candidate by the Commission and their appointment letters of the Board are of no effect. All such appointments given to such 573 candidates are invalid and of no effect."

Justice Gangopadhyay further noted that during the hearing no such candidate had appeared to make any submission before the Court. However, he gave an opportunity of hearing to the aggrieved candidates by directing the to file a detailed affidavit before March 2, 2022 stipulating the following, 

i) From whom he received the recommendation letter – the name and designation of the persons who handed it over to him or who sent it by post to him.

ii) From whom he received the appointment letter – the name and designation of the person who handed it over to him or who sent it by post to him.

iii) What is the total amount of salary he has received from the date of appointment till date

On Monday, the Court observed with dismay that none of the committee members or none on behalf of the committee are present before the Court. The Court further opined that the Division Bench and mandated the committee to file the report by two months from the date of the order i.e. December 6, 2021. 

Expressing strong displeasure against the conduct of the inquiry committee, the Court remarked, 

"The appeal court mandated the committee to file the report by two months from the date of the order of the appeal court. The order of the appeal court was passed on 6th December, 2021. Today we are on 9th February, 2022. Although the said mandatory period of two months have elapsed, not only no inquiry report has been submitted before this court but also nobody of the committee, or on behalf of the committee, did care to appear before this court. This non-appearance is taken very very seriously by this court."

The Court further directed the inquiry committee to file an interim report by February 14,  2022 as to the stage they have proceeded in inquiry of the corruption and the angle of money trail, if any, till date. 

"I direct the committee to disclose the minutes of the minutes of all the meetings conducted by the committee in the meantime, i.e., from the order of the appeal court till 6th February, 2022 along with the said report. Those minutes shall be in a sealed cover whereas the interim report will be filed openly in court", the Court directed further. 

In 2016, the State government had recommended the appointment of about 13,000 non-teaching staff in different government aided schools and accordingly the WBSSC had conducted examinations and interviews periodically and thereafter a panel had been constituted. The term of the panel had ended in 2019. However, subsequently, there were widespread allegations that the Commission had made several irregular recruitments close to almost 500 even after the expiry of the panel.

In this regard, the Court referred to the affidavit dated November 18, 2021 filed by the WBSSC stating stating that the Commission did not recommend any such candidate after the expiry of the panel and accordingly remarked, 

"If the recommendations were not issued by the Commission after the expiry of the panel for Group D posts, how does it matter to the Commission whether the petitioners did not say something about the candidates who were admittedly not recommended by the Commission? Is the commission trying to defend illegality and corruption exposed?"

Justice Gangopadhyay further underscored,

"In view of such illegality, irregularity and indication of mind boggling corruption in public appointment in schools, where salaries are paid from the public exchequer, a writ court, being a court of equity cannot turn a blind eye to the facts which have come before it by way of affidavits."

The counsels for the petitioners were also directed to serve a copy of the order to Justice Ranjit Kumar Bagh who was given the responsibility to monitor the enquiry for which the team was constituted by the appeal court. The Registrar General was directed to supply the address of Justice Ranjit Kumar Bagh in course of the day to the counsel for the petitioners in writing. 

The matter is slated to be heard next on February 14 at 12 noon. 

Background 

In 2016, the State government had recommended the appointment of about 13,000 non-teaching staff in different government aided schools and accordingly the WBSSC had conducted examinations and interviews periodically and thereafter a panel had been constituted. The term of the panel had ended in 2019. However, subsequently, there were widespread allegations that the Commission had made several irregular recruitments close to almost 500 even after the expiry of the panel. 

The Court on November 17, 2021 had also taken on record a report filed by the Commission wherein the Commission had admitted that the panel and the waiting list for the posts of 'Group-C' and 'Group-D' had expired on 4th May, 2019. A notification published by the West Bengal Central School Service Commission on September 2, 2019 had also made a similar assertion. However, in spite of the expiry of the panel, 25 appointment letters had been issued by the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education containing reference of recommendations issued by different regions like Western Region, Northern Region, Southern Region and Eastern Region. In this regard, Justice Gangopadhyay had also sought the personal attendance of Secretary of the West Bengal Central Service Commission.

Furthermore, the Court on November 23, 2021 had also taken on record the affidavit filed by the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education, the contents of which the Court had labelled as 'really surprising'. The Board had apprised the Court that it is in possession of original recommendations issued by the Commission with District Inspector of Schools memo mentioned upon its recommendations and the entire data had been received by them in hard copies. Justice Gangopadhyay had noted that this shows that recommendations came from the Commission, be it West Bengal Central School Service Commission or West Bengal Regional School Service Commission, and accordingly the Board issued the appointment letters.

Case Title: Sandeep Prasad & Ors v. State of West Bengal 

Click Here To Read/Download Order 


Next Story