The Supreme Court reversed the Calcutta High Court’s interim order directing the West Bengal Board of Primary Education to conduct a new selection for 32,000 teaching positions by the end of August 2023.
The division bench of J.K. Maheshwari and Justice K.V. Viswanathan also ordered the Calcutta High Court to resolve the School Jobs for Cash appeal as soon as possible.
“Because this a matter relating to the selection and appointment of many assistant teachers, we hope and trust that such controversy should be decided at the earliest. Therefore, we request the High Court to expedite the writ appeal.” The Apex Court directed.
The petition before the Supreme Court was lodged in opposition to the order of the division bench of the Calcutta High Court, which had suspended the dismissal of 32,000 teachers but ordered a new selection process for the position. A single bench of the High Court previously ordered the release of 12,000 teachers and the conduct of a unique selection within three months. The Petitioners argued that even though the division bench granted interim relief by halting termination because the affected individuals were not parties to the proceeding, the directive to conduct a new selection was inappropriate.
The West Bengal Board of Primary Education also argued before the Supreme Court that interviewing and selecting 32,000 teachers within the specified time frame would be impossible and prohibitively expensive.
The Supreme Court concurred with the petitioners’ argument that the solitary judge’s order was issued without even a representative hearing of the petitioners. Since the division bench had found merit in this argument and halted teachers’ dismissal, the apex court noted that the directive to conduct a new selection was not justified.
“We set aside the interim order to the extent of directing fresh selection as directed by single judge“, the Apex Court ordered.
Mukul Rohatgi, Shyam Divan, Kalyan Banerjee, and Dr AM Singhvi, among others, appeared as senior advocates in this case.
Nonetheless, the Court ordered the Petitioners to present all additional arguments, including the basis of natural justice, in the appeal before the Division Bench. 2016 the West Bengal Board of Primary Education hired 32,000 “untrained” primary school instructors. A solitary bench of the Calcutta High Court voided their appointments.
Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay’s single-judge bench also ordered the West Bengal Board of Primary Education to conduct a new recruitment exercise in three months, but only for the candidates who participated in the 2016 recruitment process. It was ordered that no new or additional candidates should be permitted to participate in such a recruitment test.
Subsequently, the Division Bench of Justices Subrata Talukdar and Supratim Bhattacharya determined that the termination of employment without affording the affected parties an opportunity to be heard necessitates judicial intervention and stayed the termination accordingly. However, the Division Bench ordered the Board to conduct a new selection by the end of August, as directed by the single Bench.
The single Bench of the Calcutta High Court, in passing the order for dismissal and re-selection, made the following observation:
“From the gross illegality in the selection procedure in the recruitment exercise of 2016 conducted by the Board it is clear that the Board and its officials including its former President (who is now in custody after arrest by Enforcement Directorate for transaction of huge money in the recruitment procedure) conducted the whole affair like affair of a local club and now it is gradually coming to light by investigation of Enforcement Directorate that jobs for primary school teachers were actually sold to some candidates who had the money to purchase the employment. A corruption of this magnitude was never known in the State of West Bengal. The former Education Minister, the former President of the Board and a number of middleman through whom the jobs were sold like a commodity are now behind the bars and the CBI and E.D. investigation is being continued now in full seeing.“
Case Title: Thin Kumar Haldi V. Priyanka Naskar, SLP(C) No. 13024-13026/2023, THE WEST BENGAL BOARD OF PRIMARY EDUCATION AND AN VS PRIYANKA NASKAR AND ORS and connected matters.