Calcutta HC on SLST-2016 recruitment process, orders fresh appointments during CBI probe

The Calcutta High Court today quashed the recruitment process of State Level Selection Test-2016 (SLST) in government sponsored and aided schools of West Bengal and ordered cancellation of all appointments made through the court.

A separation bench consisting of Judge Debangsu Basak And Justice Md. Shabbar Rashidi also directed the CBI to conduct further investigations regarding the appointment process and submit a report within three months.

The bench directed the West Bengal School Service Commission to initiate a fresh appointment process.

More than 23 lakh candidates had appeared for the SLST-2016 for 24,640 vacant posts.

A total of 25,753 appointment letters have been issued in view of the vacancies, said Firdaus Shamim, lawyer for some of the petitioners.

The division bench also rejected a prayer by some appellants for stay of the order.

Moments after the Supreme Court’s order, hundreds of school job aspirants waiting outside the premises rejoiced, while many burst into tears.

“We had been waiting for this day. After years of fighting on the streets, justice has finally been done,” said one of them.

The division bench, constituted by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court on the directions of the Supreme Court, had extensively taken note of numerous petitions and appeals relating to the selection of candidates for appointment by the SSC in the categories of teachers of classes 9, 10, 11 and 12 and staff members from groups C and D up to and including the SLST-2016.

The hearing in the cases concluded on March 20 and the judgment was reserved by the court.

On petitions filed by some candidates who appeared in SLST-2016 but did not get jobs, a single bench headed by Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay had directed the CBI to conduct a probe into alleged irregularities in the recruitment process.

The Supreme Court had also ordered termination of some jobs of teaching and non-teaching staff after irregularities were found.

After disposing of petitions related to these cases, the Supreme Court had on November 9, 2023, asked the Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court to constitute a division bench to hear all petitions and appeals relating to the recruitment process through SLST. 2016 for early ruling.

The Apex Court in its order had granted protection to the appointments, which were terminated by the High Court, for a period of six months to enable the division bench to adjudicate the disputes.

The CBI had completed its investigation into the cases and submitted a report to the Supreme Court in accordance with the Supreme Court’s order to do so within two months from the date of the order.

The central probe agency has arrested former Education Minister Partha Chatterjee and some officials, who held positions in the West Bengal School Service Commission (SSC) when the alleged scam took place.

With PTI inputs