'Chancellor cannot decide VC search committee members': HC stays proceedings to appoint new KTU VC

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Kerala High Court | Photo: Mathrubhumi

Kochi: A division bench of the Kerala High Court on Tuesday stayed the single bench order that asked the chancellor of APJ Abdul Kalam University to form a search committee to find a permanent vice-chancellor. The former VC of KTU was dismissed by the Supreme Court citing violation of University Grants Commission regulations.

The HC agreed with the contention of the Kerala government that the chancellor cannot decide the members of the search committee on his own.

As per the KTU Act of 2015, the members of the committee are: 1. One member elected by the Board of Governors (of the university), 2. One member nominated by the AICTE, and 3. Chief Secretary of the state.

The HC division bench agreed to the argument of the Kerala government that the single bench order to constitute the search committee violated UGC norms.

The UGC regulation of 2018 does not mention anything about constituting search committee. It says, “The members of the Search Committee shall be persons of eminence in the sphere of higher education and shall not be connected in any manner with the University concerned or its colleges.” It has to submit 3-5 names to the chancellor who appoints the VC from the list.

Earlier, SC had cancelled the appointment of Prof Rajasree MS as the appointment was not made from a panel of names. Instead, the committee sent one name to the chancellor. The court noted that the UGC regulations will get a final say in matters related to higher education and the appointment of Rajasree violated the UGC norms.

Later, the chancellor appointed Prof Ciza Thomas as VC-in-charge by rejecting the names submitted by the state government.

In the petition challenging this appointment, Justice Devan Ramachandran asked the chancellor to find a permanent VS within three months and dismissed the petition.

The division bench will hear the matter in detail and will probably relook at the appointment of Ciza Thomas.

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