Education Scam: Apex court blow to MUA government

SC stays HC order on panel

SHILLONG: The Supreme Court has made the formation of High Level Scrutiny Committee (HLSC) which probed the education scam as non-functional by staying the order of the Division bench of the Gauhati High Court which facilitated the formation of HLSC.

The Court has also issued notice to the State Government in this regard.

The order of the Division Bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justice Surinder Singh Nijjar and Justice Justice A. K Sikri brings relief to as many as 40 petitioners, from among the total 53 ‘tainted teachers’ whose services were terminated on February 28 this year by the Education Department based on the recommendations of HLSC.

The services of total 246 tainted teachers were terminated by the Education Department.

As the order of the Supreme Court pronounced on Monday was based on a Special Leave Petition filed by 40 tainted teachers led by Emkupar.S. Syiem from Shillong centre, the order will not be applicable to others who include 92 tainted teachers from Jowai, 37 from Amlarem, 21 from Tura and 43 from Dadenggre.

Other tainted teachers will have to approach the Supreme Court separately for the legal redress of their cases.

Even after the CBI probe into the education scam, the State Government in an alleged delaying tactic had secured an order from the Division Bench of the Gauhati High Court on August 16, 2012 to constitute the HLSC. The Division Bench comprised of Justice A Hazarika and Justice K Meruno.

There was criticism against the move of the State Government to constitute a High Level Scrutiny Committee at a time when the CBI had already found anomalies in the appointment of LP school teachers in 2009-10 and moreover, the investigating agency had also named the former Education Minister Ampareen Lyngdoh and Education official JD Sangma among others for their alleged role in the scam.

Questions were also raised on the objectivity of HLSC as its chairman and the members were from the education department.

Another concern was that while no action was taken against the higher ups involved in the education scam, the services of the teachers were terminated by the Education Department.

Moreover, the High Level Scrutiny Committee did not go into the details of the role played by the then Education Minister in the appointment of teachers.

Shillong based Advocate Kaustav Paul,who appeared in the Supreme Court for the petitioners, said on Tuesday that on the one hand, the High Level Scrutiny Committee has become non-functional in the wake of the Supreme Court order, while on the other hand, the termination order against the tainted teachers under Shillong centre stands cancelled.

While hearing the case on Monday, the Division Bench of the Supreme Court referred to the submission of Mukul Rohatgi, the senior counsel for the petitioners, who said that the “CBI report had indicated that high officials including the Minister were involved in the scam”.

Rohatgi also referred to the order of the Gauhati High Court which favoured the constitution of High Level Committee to segregate the tainted and non tainted teachers.

He also made a submission before the Supreme Court that ” High Level Committee included the officers against whom certain observations have been made in the CBI report”.

Rohatgi also argued that there is no justification for limiting the inquiry only to five centers (Shillong, Jowai, Amlarem, Tura and Dadenggre).

After hearing the submission , the Supreme Court in its order said,” In that view of the matter, issue notice. In the meantime, operation of the judgment and order shall remain stayed”.

The petitioners led by Emkupar.S. Syiem who are jubilant about the order of the Supreme Court said that it was a matter of concern that instead of taking action against the higher ups, the State Government tried to terminate their services.

Some relatives of the petitioners also expressed happiness that the order will open up further probe into the scam committed by those who are in power.