Kerala Governor tells VCs of 9 universities to resign

24 October, 2022 | Riya Girdhar

Kerala Governor tells VCs of 9 universities to resign Top News

Governor of Kerala Arif Mohammed Khan asked for the resignations of the vice chancellors of nine universities in the state on Sunday

The Supreme Court ruled on Friday that Rajasree M. S.’s nomination as the Vice Chancellor of APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University violated UGC rules since the search committee that recommended her appointment was “not legally constituted.”

Governor of Kerala Arif Mohammed Khan asked for the resignations of the vice chancellors of nine universities in the state on Sunday, two days after the Supreme Court ruled that the appointment of the vice chancellor of APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University, Thiruvananthapuram, was “illegal” and “void ab initio” because it violated UGC rules.

“Upholding the Honorable Supreme Court’s decision… PRO, Kerala Raj Bhavan: Shri Arif Mohammed Khan has instructed the vice chancellors of nine universities in Kerala to submit their resignations.

“Letters have been sent ordering the vice chancellors of nine institutions in Kerala to submit their resignations by 11.30 a.m. on October 24, 2022. PRO, Kerala Raj Bhavan sent a letter to the involved universities’ vice chancellors and registrars, it added.

The list also includes the University of Kerala, the Mahatma Gandhi University, the Cochin University of Science & Technology, the Kerala University of Fisheries & Ocean Studies, the University of Calicut, the Thunchath Ezhuthachan Malayalam University, the Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, and the APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University.

The Supreme Court ruled on Friday that Rajasree M. S.’s nomination as the Vice Chancellor of APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University violated UGC rules since the search committee that recommended her appointment was “not legally constituted.”

According to the SC, “a panel of not fewer than three suitable individuals… should be brought before the Visitor/Chancellor as per Section 13(4) of the University Act, 2015,” which requires unanimous recommendations from the (search) committee. In this instance, the committee had just proposed Rajasree’s name, it was noted.

Following the SC’s ruling, the state government notified Raj Bhavan on Saturday that it was appointing Dr. Saji Gopinath, the vice chancellor of Kerala Digital University, to lead A P J Abdul Kalam Technological University.

Khan stated that the Supreme Court ruling applied to other universities in his letter to the vice chancellors on Sunday. According to the letter, nine V-Cs who were “either appointed from single-name panels or nominated by the search/ selection committee with non-academician as member” are unable to remain because of the Supreme Court’s ruling.

In the majority of the nine cases, the chief secretary—a non-academician—was a member of the search committee, according to Khan’s letter.

According to the letter, only Dr. Mahadevan Pillai’s name was submitted for the position of vice chancellor at the University of Kerala, and the chief secretary served on the search committee. The tenure of Pillai expires on Monday.

Concerning Mahatma Gandhi University, V-C Kerala University of Fisheries & Ocean Studies Vice Chancellor Dr. Sabu Thomas V-C at Kannur University is Dr. Riji John. Sanskrit V-C, Dr. Gopinath Ravindran, Sree Sankaracharya University Dr. M. V. Narayanan and Vice Chancellor of Thunchath Ezhuthachan Malayalam University The letter said that the search panel had exclusively suggested Dr. Anil Kumar.

According to the letter, the panel had proposed three candidates for the vice chancellor positions at Cochin University of Science & Technology (V-C Dr. K N Madhusoodanan) and University of Calicut (V-C M K Jayaraj), however the chief secretary was also a member of the search committee.

The CPI(M) state secretariat issued a statement in opposition to the governor’s decision, saying: “The conduct of the Governor indicates the Sangh Parivar conspiracy to weaken Kerala’s resistance to the saffronization of the education system. He insulted Kerala’s secularism. Kerala’s V-Cs have been chosen in accordance with the rules in place there. The higher education market in Kerala is reaching new heights because to their leadership… The Governor’s action is a part of a plot to undermine the state’s higher education system and of the Union Government’s general strategy to sabotage the state’s growth plans.

V-C of Kannur University Dr. Gopinath Ravindran declared he will not quit after being reappointed in November of last year. “The Supreme Court is now hearing a lawsuit involving my nomination. Allow the governor to fire me. The order is really exceptional,” he informed Kannur media.

The governance of universities has long been a bone of contention between the state’s LDF government and the governor. The University Laws (Amendment) Bill 2022, which attempts to limit the Governor’s authority in the appointment of V-Cs, was enacted by the Kerala Assembly last month.

Khan then declared: “I shall not permit the autonomy of the universities to be diminished.” Khan has not yet approved the Bill. I won’t consent to government meddling in higher education. This will lead to the universities’ autonomy, which is a sacrosanct idea, eroding.