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Pressure to break rules in varsities, says Kerala Governor, asks CM to take over

Khan also raises questions regarding the recent amendment to the University Act, taking away the power of the Chancellor to appoint the University Appellate Tribunal as well as the requirement to consult the high court on the matter.

Written by Shaju Philip | Thiruvananthapuram |
Updated: December 12, 2021 8:45:08 am
IUML, Waqf Board, Pinarayi Vijayan, Kerala, Kerala news, Riyas, PA Mohammed Riyas, Indian express, Indian express newsKerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan (File photo)

Alleging that pressure is being brought upon him to do things in “total violation of rules and procedures”, Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan has written to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan saying he wants to step down as the Chancellor of universities and that Vijayan can step into that slot.

In a hard-hitting letter on December 8, released now, Khan has asked the CM to amend the Act concerned regarding this, saying he could then carry on his political objectives without depending on the Governor. “Once the universities come under the direct control of the Government, there will be no scope for anybody to make allegations of political interference,” he said.

Khan says it had become impossible for him as Chancellor to “protect” universities from “continuous political interference” and “erosion of their autonomy”. During his last two-and-a-half years as chancellor, he adds, he had watched the situation with dismay. “But the recent developments and the manner in which pressure is brought upon me to do things in total violation of rules and procedures has deeply saddened me.’’

Khan goes on to list such alleged instances. One of them is the re-appointment of Kannur University Vice-Chancellor Prof Gopinath Ravindran. “I have fully realised that what I was being asked to do was not in accordance with rules and contrary to law,” he says. “In order to avoid controversy with the government, I have signed the order (for the reappointment), but I have been feeling extremely uncomfortable after that.”

The Governor says he tried to convince the CM’s legal adviser that re-appointment was not the same as “extension”, but the legal adviser had insisted that his opinion was based on the advice of the Advocate General.

The other instance he cites is the non-payment of salary to the V-C of Sree Narayanaguru Open University. “How serious the government is about the universities can be understood from this. The Governor’s office took up the matter with the higher education department three times this year, but the government has not considered it proper to acknowledge the communication,” Khan says.

He also point out that the government has not given clearance for appointment of faculty at Sree Narayanaguru Open University more than a year after it came into existence. He fears that with the clock ticking, the university might not be able to start any academic programme even in the second year of its existence.

Regarding the appointment of the V-C of Sanskrit University, Khan says the committee suggested a single name, in violation of UGC guidelines that call for at least three names.

Khan also raises questions regarding the recent amendment to the University Act, taking away the power of the Chancellor to appoint the University Appellate Tribunal as well as the requirement to consult the high court on the matter.

Khan says universities are being packed with political nominees and non-academics, and talks about how a V-C had moved court against the Chancellor even after the government had directed the V-C to withdraw the case. The V-C did not follow the government directive for six months and the government took no action, the Governor notes.

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