Arif Khan’s letter invalid, VCs can continue till chancellor issues final order: Kerala HC

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Kerala High Court | Photo: Mathrubhumi

Kochi: The Kerala High Court on Monday set aside the communication from the Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan seeking resignation of vice-chancellors of nine universities in the state. It clarified that the vice-chancellors can continue in the office until the chancellor issues a final order based on the show-cause notice issued on Monday.

Governor is the chancellor of most of the state universities.

The VCs can challenge the decision of the chancellor if required.

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The governor argued before the court that he was "trying to save the VCs from ignominy" by sending the letter. While rejecting this, the court said if the VCs are inefficient to hold the post as described in the letter of the chancellor, their selection becomes invalid from the day one of their appointment.

With the show-cause notice issued by the governor on Monday, the relevance of the letter is lost, observed the Justice Devan Ramachandran.

The counselors of the vice-chancellors argued that the state act does not provide the option for the chancellor to sack the VCs for the said reason. MG University VC argued that the SC verdict is not applicable to him as it was based on 2013 UGC regulation, while he was appointed based on a 2018 regulation. The VC of Thunchath Ezhuthachan Malayalam University said the varsity act does not contain any clause for chancellor to remove VC.

The court said the precedence, not the competence of the letter, was looked into in this order. The matter has to be heard in detail before making a verdict, it added.

Khan on Sunday had asked the vice-chancellors of nine state universities to tender resignation as their appointments became void in the wake of Supreme Court order of October 22 against the VC of state technological university. They were given time till 11.30 am on Monday to put their papers in.

Following this, the VCs approached HC against the letter. Meanwhile, as no one abided by the demand of the chancellor, he issued them show-cause notices to explain why he must not sack them. The last date to reply to the show-cause notice of the governor is November 3.

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