Governor Khan grants search committee three more months to recommend VC of Kerala University

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Governor Arif Mohammad Khan | Photo: Sabu Scaria

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan as Chancellor of Kerala University has granted an extension of 3 months from November 5 to the Search Committee to make recommendations for the appointment of VC of Kerala University, a Raj Bhavan official said on Monday.

The tenure of the Kerala University Vice Chancellor will expire on October 24. The university representative has not been selected by the search committee formed by the Governor.

"The chancellor is pleased to grant an extension of time to the search committee constituted to make recommendations for the appointment of Vice Chancellor of the University of Kerala for further periods of three months from November 5. All other terms of the notification dated August 5 will remain unchanged," the Raj Bhavan statement said.

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Earlier, the Governor was questioned if he would sign the Universities Law Amendment Bill that is lying pending with him as he believes that the bill aims at appointing the unqualified relatives of the Chief Minister and ministers in universities.

"I won't allow the appointment of unqualified relatives of CM and ministers in the universities...I am not a rubber stamp. I will apply my mind, come to my own judgment, and then decide what's in accordance with the law, constitution and convention," Khan had said on the issue of the appointments in the Kerala University.

The University Laws Amendment Bill, which aims to curtail the power of the Governor in the selection of vice-chancellors, was passed by Kerala government this month. Since then, the bill has been pending before the Governor.

"Everything will be considered on merit. The government cannot be given the power to appoint the Vice Chancellors. I am saying it clearly, this will amount to executive interference," Khan had said on the matter of the University Laws Amendment Bill.

"The Chief Minister (Pinarayi Vijayan) had written to me assuring me that there will be no interference and now they are proposing that they will appoint Vice-Chancellor. That would mean the erosion of autonomy of educational institutions," he had added mentioning that as long as he remains in power, he won't let universities' autonomy erode.

Earlier on August 30, the Kerala Governor had said that his decisions on key legislations will be based purely on constitutional merit and not dictated by any pressure.

Speaking to mediapersons, Governor Khan said, "Whatever decision I take shall be dictated by the requirements, rather the obligations, which I have on me and that is to decide every issue on the basis of Constitutionality, law and its spirit." The Governor reiterated that the decisions taken by him would be solely based on merit.

On the appointment of Chief Minister's Private Secretary KK Ragesh's wife Priya Varghese as an associate professor at Kannur university, Khan had promised to order a full-fledged investigation into the allegations of nepotism in appointments made to various posts in Universities in the state.

The controversy pertains to the matter in which the Governor stayed the appointment of Priya Varghese, wife of chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan's Private Secretary and CPI (M) leader KK Ragesh, as an Associate Professor in Kannur University's Malayalam department.Currently, Varghese is working as deputy director of Kerala Basha Institute. Varghese was an assistant professor in Kerala Varma College in Thrissur and was working at Basha Institute on deputation as deputy director.

Earlier in 2021, a letter from Kerala Higher Education Minister R Bindu was out which recommended the reappointment of Dr Gopinath Ravindran (former VC of the university) as its Vice-Chancellor.

In the letter dated November 22, 2021, to the Governor, she had recommended Dr Gopinath Ravindran may be allowed to continue for another term as Vice-Chancellor and to cancel the notification dated October 27 this year appointing a Search-cum-Selection committee for identifying the person to be appointed as Vice-Chancellor.

In another letter dated November 22, 2021, the higher education minister mentioned that steps have been taken to withdraw the notification inviting applications to select a Vice Chancellor for Kannur University, after which Bindu welcomed the verdict of the Lokayukta to reappoint Ravindran as the university's vice-chancellor.

However, the High Court of Kerala as well as the Supreme Court dismissed a writ petition, holding that the impugned appointment violated no statutory provisions in the "reappointment" of the man concerned as the Vice-Chancellor.


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