Education minister Partha Chatterjee announced in the Assembly on Wednesday that the department has started the process of recruiting 72,000 teachers, only to be followed by threats by prominent lawyers belonging to opposition parties to stall the government’s plan.
While speaking to the media at the Assembly, Chatterjee expressed the fear of litigations. “We have started the process of recruiting 72,000 teachers. As many as 42,400 appointment letters are ready. Recruitments will start by March 15, provided people do not drag the matter to the court again,” Chatterjee said and indicated at two prominent lawyers belonging to opposition parties, without naming them.
Chatterjee added that 1.23 lakh candidates qualified for the 2015 Teachers Eligibility Test, of which 72,000 are being recruited. According to him, several candidates who passed the test were disqualified during verification of information provided by them.
“Verification was the most important parameter. Claims of all examinees were verified under strict parametres,” the minister said.
“We are assuring all applicants that the process will be conducted with utmost transparency. If you see some problems, let’s talk. Let’s solve the issues amicably. But do not stall the entire process of recruitment dragging it into the court,” he added.
Those who have been selected have started getting SMSs from the state government informing them about the selection. Of the 72,000 posts, nearly 42,000 will be primary school teachers.
“The education minister is apprehensive of fresh lawsuits because he knows the process is full of malpractices. There are two particular reasons why government is scared of court cases – the process is non-transparent and reservation policies have not been followed,” said Sujan Chakraborty, leader of the CPI(M) parliamentary party in the Assembly.
Elaborating on their allegation of non-transparency, Chakraborty said, “The government has not published the list of successful candidates despite our repeated demands. Only individual candidates can check on website whether they succeeded or not. This has been done on purpose to ensure that unqualified candidates do not get to identify people who scored poorer in exams but managed to bag a job.”
Talking to HT minutes after Chatterjee’s announcement, advocate-cum-CPI(M) leader Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya said, “Of course we will take the legal way and stall their corrupted process of recruitment. The entire process has been manipulated by bribery.”
Bhattacharya earlier appeared at court for several petitioners who alleged malpractices in the exam and recruitment process.
“Hearings in the existing lawsuits have not taken place recently and it is that delay that possibly encouraged the government to move ahead with their agenda,” Bhattacharya added.
“Chatterjee must have the knowledge of malpractices and this makes him plead in advance against lawsuits,” remarked Arunabha Ghosh, another prominent lawyer and Congress leader.
The teacher recruitment process in the Trinamool Congress regime has been marred with controversies since the beginning of the Mamata Banerjee regime.
The primary Teachers’ Eligibility Test (TET) exam for recruitment of primary teachers in state-run schools, conducted in 2012 and taken by 17,51,051 candidates for about 35,000 posts, got embroiled in controversy in November 2013 when results showed only 18,793 candidates (1.07%) qualified, leaving about 16,000 seats vacant.
The government later allowed the unsuccessful TET candidates can reappear in another test but several candidates had moved court.
The TET exam in August 2015 had to be rescheduled after a bag of question papers were mysteriously missing. Controversy marred the rescheduled examination as well, held across the state in October 2015 - in which nearly 23 lakh aspirants appeared - over allegations of some questions being in circulation on social media even before the exams started. The education board, however, refused the reschedule the exam.
In 2016, a Calcutta High Court bench had vacated its stay order on recruitment on the basis of the 2015 test, following which the results were published in September.