करंट टॉपिक्स

Chancellor is the authority, says Kerala High Court

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Kerala (VSK). High Court maintained that Kerala Governor, in his capacity as the Chancellor of Kerala Varsities, have the right to demand the Vice Chancellors’ resignation even though he appointed them. Court wondered, if Chancellors do not have the right to correct it when they realized that the appointment was not right. Court said – “Chancellors are also human. To err is human and the Chancellor is human. He is not a superhuman.”

Single Bench of Justice Devan Ramachandran observed that Chancellor can take the decision. He even told that Kerala Governor is a gentleman. Even though Court does not agree with the message Governor sent to nine VC’s yesterday (October 23, 2022) to forward their resignation to Raj Bhavan before 11.30 am (October 24), his today’s step to forward Show Cause Notice to the VCs seeking their explanation before 5pm on November 3, 2022 is the right step.

Court said that if incompetent candidates occupy the position, it is wrong message to the society. It was a befitting reply to Higher Education Minister R. Bindu’s statement that nothing wrong in the appointment of VC of the APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University, because, it was their unanimous selection (even though it was a ‘single name panel’).  She appears to be unaware of the convention that if University Act and UGC regulations are not in total agreement, UGC regulations prevail. She even said that the Supreme Court verdict is applicable to Technological University alone. Today High court has made it clear that Supreme Court verdict is applicable to himself (Single Bench Judge Justice Devan Ramachandran) as well as the High Court, universities and appointments of VCs.

High Court wondered how come Government of Kerala joins today’s case when ‘universities are autonomous’. He asked the Advocate General why was he there in the Court. He replied that Government of Kerala was a party in the case.

Matters concerning the universities have to be handled by Chancellor or Vice Chancellor. Otherwise, what is the meaning of autonomy? Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, addressing a press conference today (Oct 24), said that Governor has no authority to ask VCs to resign.

VCs maintain that Left Democratic Front, read Chief Minister, asked them not to resign. This statement raises a question – “Have VCs formed their trade union”? In another words, Democracy fails here and Partyocracry wins!

Kannur Varsity VC Gopinath Raveendran argued that he was reappointed hence he cannot be asked to resign. It is reported that his first appointment itself was not valid as it was again based on a ‘single name panel’. His second appointment was controversial as he had crossed 60! But, the Governor has disclosed to the media that Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told him that since the candidate belonged to his district it was his request to the Governor to award him a reappointment.

A common argument of all VCs was that they can be removed only when there is allegation of misconduct. But, Court said, Supreme Court has already made it clear that they are not competent. “I don’t want to hear arguments against the SC Judgement. I won’t entertain it. The mind of the Supreme Court is absolutely clear in Sreejith vs Rajasree”.

In another words, the Court ruled that the VCs can continue in their posts till the Governor passes a final order after following the procedure under law. The Court said that the Governor in issuing the letter did not give adequate notice to the VCs.

Court also said that since show cause notices have now been issued to the VCs, the communication asking them to resign is no longer relevant.

Additional Advocate General Ashok M. Cherian said that the State is not taking any stand and will accept the order of the Court. Then Court said – “AAG fairly submitted that the State did not and does not intend to take sides with any VC or Chancellor and that they will accept any order of the Court”.

Court concluded that “till such time as the Chancellor issues a final order against any of the petitioners, they remain as VCs subject to the law”.

In short, Court has given a strong message that Chancellor is the final authority in university matters, not CPM or LDF.

 

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