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HC pulls up Education Minister

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, Aug 20 � In a judgment that lays bare political interference overriding merit in the matter of public employment, the Gauhati High Court has set aside an order of the State Education Department that had appointed an undeserving candidate as teacher while negating the candidature of the top-ranked candidate selected in the due process.

The court also pulled up State Education Minister Gautom Bora for his uncalled for role in the appointment of the undeserving candidate.

While intervening in the case following a writ petition by the aggrieved candidate, Gautam Kumar Sarma of Nalbari, the court found out that the petitioner had topped the list of selected candidates for the post of a graduate Arts teacher of Govinda Mishrashram Tol but the post was ultimately given to Bikash Mishra of Nalbari who was ranked well below in the merit list.

Noting that the undeserving candidate was appointed following a DO letter dated May 7, 2010 issued by the Education Minister to the Deputy Director, Sanskrit Education, asking the latter to consider the candidature (he had earlier made an application to the Education Minister through the local MLA seeking appointment as a graduate teacher), the court observed that the �manner and method� of the appointment made a �mockery of the entire selection process in which altogether 63 candidates had participated�.

�The present case is only a single instance of political interference � if the departmental minister involves himself in the above manner for a solitary post of teacher, the situation can well be imagined when it involves large-scale appointments,� the court observed.

�Those at the helm of affairs talk about good and viable education policy, transparency and fair play and avoidance of nepotism, favouritism, etc., in the matter of selection and appointment but in reality the position is as reflected in the aforesaid narration of facts,� Justice BK Sharma observed in his judgment.

The court further pulled up the bureaucrats concerned of the Education Department, saying that they ought not to �have mortgaged their conscience to the minister towards the appointment of respondent No 6 (Bikash Mishra) by bypassing the selection and merit�.

The court said that the petitioner who was later appointed by an official order dated August 9, 2010, will be entitled to all the consequential benefits. It also directed the Education Minister and the Deputy Director of Sanskrit Education to bear a cost of Rs 5,000 in equal shares as cost of the case for the petitioner.

The court noted that the minister had tendered an �unconditional, bonafide and unqualified apology to the court if there was any omission or commission on his part.�

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