Sacked Primary Teachers

Will They Get Back Their Jobs?

Nityananda Ghosh

Will the sacked primary school teachers be reappointed? The hapless will have to wait till September 2023. The fate of 32,000- odd teachers is swinging in balance after a division bench of Calcutta High Court ordered an interim stay on Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay's order sacking them finding irregularities in their process of appointment. Division Bench comprising Justice Subrata Talukdar and Justice Supratim Bhattacharya, however, ordered an interim stay on 29th May 2023. Earlier Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay ordered sacking of 36,000- odd teachers in the government aided primary schools on the ground that they did not fulfill the criteria to have a diploma in elementary education. In his landmark order Justice Gangopadhyay issued sacking of 36,000- odd teachers which was later rectified by him and the numbers came down to 32,000. Justice Gangopadhyay's order of sacking 32,000 odd- teachers will henceforth be treated as para-teachers and they will be deprived of their earlier status i.e. permanent full time teachers. Justice Gangopadhyay issued the order on 12th of May 2023. In truth it was in response to a TET (Teachers Eligibility Test) passed aspirants- filed case. For one thing the recruitment of teachers in primary schools has been stopped since 2016 when 40,000 odd- teachers were last recruited.

 The Prathamik Shiksha Parshad (The West Bengal State Primary Education Board) along with the sacked teachers filed a case in the division bench headed by Justice Talukdar and Justice Bhattacharya challenging the order issued by Justice Gangopadhyay's single Bench. Considering the merit of the case the division bench comprising Justice Subrata Talukdar and Justice Supratim Bhattacharya accepted it and hearing took place on 17th May but the decision was pending till 19th May. On that particular date the division bench of Justice Talukdar and Justice Bhattacharya stayed the order of single bench till September 2023. During the intervening period, the sacked teachers will not be treated as para-teachers (who are not regular teachers) as was ordered by Justice Gangopadhyay. The 32,000- odd teachers will be eligible to draw their salaries like regular teachers till further order.

The division bench actually upheld a part of Justice Gangopa-dhyay's order in which it said ‘a fresh panel of candidates has to be drawn up within three months to fill the posts that will fall vacant once the 32,000- odd teachers lose their jobs’. The single bench of Justice Gangopadhyay also said the 32,000- odd teachers would have to appear in the aptitude test and an interview to be conducted by the Prathamik Shiksha Parshad as a part of teacher recruitment exercise where they won't have to sit for written test i.e. TET which they had already qualified in 2015. They have to appear in an aptitude test and an interview to make it to merit list. Five marks each are allotted to aptitude test and the interview. Justice Gango-padhyay's order to treat the 32,000- odd teachers as para-teachers is simply ridiculous.

On 12th of May Justice Gangopadhyay had said in his order "The board shall immediately arrange for recruitment process for candidates who were untrained at the time of recruitment (including candidates who have obtained training qualification in the meantime) within a period of 3(three) months from date only for the candidates who participated in 2016 recruitment process”. It is still unknown how efficiently the Prathamik Shiksha Parshad and the Bengal's education ministry will take the case to help resolve the crisis. Given the present state of chaotic situation prevailing in the entire education system it is unlikely they will act promptly.

Justice Gangopadhyay in his order said all examinees would have to appear in an interview and an aptitude test–"the whole interview process has to be videographed carefully and preserved." So, the fate of 32,000-odd teachers is under High Court's jurisdiction and the Prathamik Shiksha Parshad has to obey either the division bench's order or to opt for challenging it in Supreme Court. The Prathamik Shiksha Parshad is said to have opted for the second one.

Amidst rampant corruption perpetrated by small fry to big boss of this government as well as the ruling party leaders the unemployed youth's future in this state is bleak. The opposition parties (extreme right, right and the left) as a whole are trying to capitalise on the overall turmoil in education sector but their efforts are to make respective parties’ electoral gains rather than to direct the government in right direction to settle the matter in favour of the aspirants. The opposition parties' main aim is to issue press release against the misrule of the present government and to show their faces before the TV cameras but they are unable to address the fate of thousands of young aspirants who are protesting on the streets. Sensible persons expect that the Prathamik Shiksha Parishad as well as the Education Ministry will take the issue seriously to sort out the complications arising out of the court order and they will abide by the order of the division bench by absorbing the qualified TET passed candidates in their jobs as early as possible. Then it is not clear yet whether the Prathamik Shiksha Parshad despite its preliminary legal action will act according to the aspirations of unemployed youth who are swelling the list to get appointed in primary schools.

Back to Home Page

Vol 55, No. 50, Jun 11 - 17, 2023