The University of Kerala Saturday urged Governor Arif Mohammed Khan to withdraw the process to select the next vice chancellor and initiate a fresh search-cum selection committee. The university’s demand came after Khan, who is also the Chancellor of the university, did not include a nominee from the University Senate.
In a resolution, the university said the formation of the committee, without including the nominee of the Senate, “is undemocratic, illegal and against the University Act”.
Earlier this month, Khan had formed a search committee with nominees of the UGC and the Chancellor but did not include a nominee of the University (Senate). The University Act mandates that the committee should have a nominee of the Senate. Reportedly, as the CPI(M)-dominated Senate did not recommend its nominee, Khan notified only a two-member committee.
The CPI(M) is of the view that the Governor has “hastily” formed the committee against the backdrop of the move to bring in legislation to give the Government an upper hand in the selection committee. Earlier this week, the state Cabinet had ratified the draft of a Bill, which would be presented in the Assembly session starting next week. The Bill has several clauses that would take away the supremacy of the Governor as the Chancellor in selection of V-Cs among other things.
During the Senate meeting held Saturday, one of the members brought to the notice of V-C Dr Mahadevan Pillai about “the pending recommendation of the Senate member to the search committee”. Subsequently, the issue was presented before the Senate as an agenda.
Senate member advocate K H Babujan said the formation of the two-member search committee is against the University Act. “It is illegal and has no provision for inclusion of the senate nominee in the search committee at a later stage as claimed by the Governor. The Senate nominee would be the only democratically-elected member in the search panel. Hence, a committee without a senate nominee is undemocratic,” he said.
He added that the incumbent V-C has a term up to October 25 this year and hence the Governor formed the committee in an undue haste. “The present two-member committee should be withdrawn and the process should be started afresh. In the past, when a UGC nominee in the V-C search committee had withdrawn voluntarily, then the Raj Bhavan had issued a fresh notification for the formation of the search committee. That precedent of reconstituting the search committee should be followed,” he said.
Meanwhile, Khan told the media in Delhi that he would order a full-fledged probe into nepotism in appointments in various universities in the state.
“Right from the professor down to the lower staff, they want to have people who are related to them. Now, I will initiate a full-fledged inquiry on how many such appointments have been made in the last 2-3 years,” Khan said in Delhi.
Days back, Khan had stayed the appointment of Priya Varghese, wife of CPI(M) leader K K Ragesh, who is the private secretary to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. Varghese was appointed as associate professor of Malayalam in Kannur University over several deserving candidates, who had a better academic profile and selection score than her.
Khan had also sought an explanation from Kannur University V-C Dr Gopinath Ravindran on the controversial appointment. In turn, the university, with the full backing of CPI(M), decided to challenge the Governor’s action in the high court.