Mamata moves SC against HC order

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today kept up her attack on the Calcutta High Court, blaming it for “taking away jobs of 26,000 young men and women” on the orders of the Bharatiya Janata Party even as her Government moved the Supreme Court over the issue which has triggered a political storm in midst […]

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today kept up her attack on the Calcutta High Court, blaming it for “taking away jobs of 26,000 young men and women” on the orders of the Bharatiya Janata Party even as her Government moved the Supreme Court over the issue which has triggered a political storm in midst of the election season. Mamata Banerjee also sought to distance herself from the illegalities committed by her Government and agencies under it. “There are so many departments and I do not know what each department or entity is doing.”
Mamata Banerjee alleged that the Calcutta High Court had become the “tirtha kendra” (pilgrimage site) of the Bharatiya Janata Party. Addressing a public meeting at Ausgram in the State’s Birbhum district, Banerjee said it is due to the court orders that her Government is not able to provide jobs to the State’s youth.

The Opposition BJP demanded that the High Court take cognizance of Mamata Banerjee’s utterances and register a suo motu case of contempt against the West Bengal Chief Minister.

In another development on Wednesday, the State Government and the State Selection Commission moved separate petitions before the Supreme Court seeking its intercession to stay the Calcutta High Court order.

Challenging the High Court order, the State Government, in its appeal filed before the top court, said the High Court cancelled the appointments “arbitrarily”. “The High Court failed to appreciate the ramification of cancelling the entire selection process leading to straightaway termination of teaching and non-teaching staff from service with immediate effect, without giving sufficient time to the petitioner state to deal with such an exigency, rendering the education system at a stand-still,” the plea said.

The State Selection Commission pleaded that the Court’s direction would lead to flouting norms set under the Right to Education.

“Schedule of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, prescribes that the appropriate Government is bound to maintain the Student to Teacher ratio of 40:1 at the elementary level. As a standard practice, the same ratio is also maintained by the State at the Secondary level,” the plea read.

“The High Court has failed to appreciate that the Petitioner State is bound to maintain such a student-to-teacher ratio for effective impairment of knowledge.”
The West Bengal Government, in its plea, clarified that even the investigation by the CBI did not have anything.

“The High Court failed to appreciate that the material placed on record by the Staff Selection Commission (SSC) and CBI after extensive scrutiny by no stretch of the imagination, indicates that the entire selection process was tainted and as a consequence, all the appointments made thereto suffer from grave irregularities.

In fact, the High Court proceeds on the premise that further scrutiny of the selection might reveal more irregularities, which is purely based on conjecture and surmises and not supported by any cogent material on record,” it stated.

On Monday, the Calcutta High Court cancelled the appointment of 25,753 teachers and non-teaching staff made through the State Level Selection Test (SLST) 2016 in West Bengal Government-sponsored and aided schools.

The High Court also ordered the teachers who had been illegally appointed to return their salaries with interest within six weeks. The court has ordered the School Service Commission (SSC) to conduct fresh recruitments.

After the Calcutta High Court cancelled the appointments, the BJP demanded Mamata Banerjee’s resignation, and said the order exposed the “brazen corruption” under the Trinamool Congress Government.

“The BJP has no other work than to move the High Court against the State Government. They have taken away the jobs of school teachers. Where will these 26,000 youth go? Will schools in West Bengal be closed? I have about 10 lakh vacant jobs but it is due to the court orders that I cannot give them to the youths. It is doing whatever the BJP is saying,” Mamata Banerjee alleged.

“An opportunity to place arguments is granted to even criminals and people accused of murder. Is this even a law? I will not talk about judges but I have the full right to talk about the judgements. If there are faults then they would be subjected to scrutiny but how were the 26,000 jobs cancelled? Is this a joke?” she asked.

This is the second time Mamata Banerjee has mentioned the Calcutta High Court order. Soon after the order was passed on Monday, she said the court verdict cancelling the recruitments was “illegal” and that her Government would appeal before a higher court.
“We stand by those who lost their jobs. We will ensure you get justice, and challenge the order in a higher court. It is not mandatory to accept all verdicts. This order was passed as per the BJP’s instructions amid the elections,” she had said during an election rally in the Raiganj Lok Sabha seat on Monday.

In her election rally in Birbhum,.the Trinamool Congress supremo praised jailed heavyweight party leader Anubrata Mondal, who is currently lodged in Delhi’s Tihar Jail for his alleged involvement in a cattle smuggling case.

“Anubrata Mondal is a kind-hearted person. He is very down to earth. I don’t know the details of the case but he was loved by the people. He never returned anyone empty-handed if they sought his help. He knew the Birbhum district like the back of his hand. I have noticed in administrative review meetings how he used to work. In every election, he was kept under house arrest and was not allowed to move out. Raids are being carried out in the residences of our leaders. They are threatening them to either vote for the BJP or face the ED,” alleged Banerjee.

A division bench, formed by the Chief Justice of the High Court at the direction of the Supreme Court, had adjudicated on the matter of illegal appointments in the State Government-run schools. The bench comprising justices Debangshu Basak and Md Shabbar Rashidi ordered the cancellation and called for the CBI to conduct further investigation into the appointment process. They sought a report from the CBI within three months.

The court’s decision applies to all appointments made by the SSC in the categories of teachers for classes 9, 10, 11, and 12, as well as group-C and D staffers, through the State Level Selection Test-2016 (SLST) where it found wide-spread irregularities.

The Calcutta HC has also instructed the West Bengal School Service Commission to initiate the fresh appointments in the next 15 days. Over 23 lakh candidates had appeared for the 2016 SLST for 24,640 vacant posts.