The row between the government of Kerala and Governor Arif Mohammed Khan deepened on Wednesday, when State Minister of Higher Education R Bindu stated that through an ordinance the LDF government plans to replace the governor with expert academics as chancellors of universities in the country. the state. The decision to issue the ordinance was taken at a cabinet meeting, a source in the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) said, PTI reported.
The state government’s move comes amid ongoing battles between it and the governor over the functioning of universities, including the appointment of vice chancellors, in the state. News18 explains the struggle:
VC appointment queue
The line has been going on for a while. In December last year, Khan had written a letter saying he wanted to resign as university chancellor after alleging he was pressured by the state government to make appointments that violated procedures.
Kerala Governor Khan had then opposed the appointment of the wife of a CPIM leader as an associate professor in the Malayalam Department of Kannur University in August this year. Priya Varghese, wife of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s private secretary, KK Ragesh, was accused of not having the necessary qualifications for the job.
The development had fueled the debate on favoritism in education arrangements in the state.
In October, Khan had asked the vice chancellors (V-Cs) of nine state universities to resign, alleging rules were broken during their appointment.
When they refused to resign, Khan sent them a formal notice for the show, requiring them to respond to their “legal right” to remain in office by Nov. 3. The VCs then petitioned the Kerala Supreme Court, where they were granted leave to remain in office until the governor issued a final injunction based on their responses to the notices. Khan then made announcements to the vice chancellors of two more universities.
In his capacity as chancellor of state universities, the governor cited a Supreme Court ruling last week halting the appointment of the vice chancellor of APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University in Kerala. This was due to the search committee’s failure to recommend a panel of at least three names as required by the University Grants Commission (UGC). Subsequently, eight other VCs were asked to resign.
Upholding Hon’ble Supreme Court verdict dt 21.10.22 in Civil Appeal Nos. 7634-7635 of 2022 (@ SLP(c) Nos. 21108-21109 of 2021) Hon’ble Governor Shri Arif Mohammed Khan has Vice Chancellors of 9 varsities in Kerala (see picture) to submit resignation: PRO, KeralaRajBhavan pic.twitter.com/tsT5tQ9NJr
— Governor of Kerala (@KeralaGovernor) October 23, 2022
Khan reportedly stated in his letter to the nine VCs that they were ineligible to continue in office because they were “either appointed from single-name panels or recommended by the search/selection committee with a non-academic as member”, thePrint reported.
According to his letter, the chief secretary was a member of the search committee in most of the nine cases, suggesting political interference in the appointments.
Kerala Govt Vapors
The governor’s actions angered Kerala’s Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF), with Prime Minister Pinarayi even accusing Vijayan Khan of “acting as a tool” of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). The governor, for his part, has maintained that he is simply trying to take corrective action based on the Supreme Court ruling.
Now Minister Bindu has said that the latest decision by the Kerala government is for the improvement of higher education and universities in the state.
Asked if Governor Arif Mohammed Khan would sign the ordinance, the minister said she hopes he would act in accordance with his constitutional duties.
University laws (amendment) Bill 2022
The Kerala Assembly passed the University Laws (Amendment) Bill 2022 earlier in September, which would limit the governor’s powers as chancellor of state universities. The opposition claimed the government was trying to place “puppets” of the ruling party in key positions in universities. The bill has not yet been approved by the governor.
The government has also passed the Kerala Lok Ayukta Amendment Act of 2022, which limits the powers of the anti-corruption agency. The amendment authorized the competent authority (the Prime Minister) to reject or accept the ruling of the Lok Ayukta. Under the current law, the government is obliged to follow the instructions of the anti-corruption agency. The amendment proposal also gives the Legislative Assembly the power to review charges against the Prime Minister. If a Lokayukta report charges a minister, the bill gives the prime minister the power to review the report, and in the case of lawmakers, the competent authority is the Speaker of the House. Aside from that, the bill puts political leaders outside the scope of the law.
In response to the bills, Governor Arif Mohammed Khan had stated that he would not allow a mechanism to be put in place that would allow underqualified and unqualified relatives of those in power, as well as relatives of the personal staff of the prime minister or other ministers, to be appointed. . They cannot be hired on the university payroll, he claimed.
And referring to the Kerala Lok Ayukta (Amendment) Bill, 2022, the governor stated that the basic principle of jurisprudence does not allow a person to judge his own case. No one has the authority to rule on a case against him, he said.
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