Kerala govt has right to choose VC in-charge of KTU, rules HC

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Arif Mohammed Khan | Photo - Mathrubhumi archives

Kochi: A division bench of the Kerala High Court on Thursday stated that the state government holds the power to choose the interim vice-chancellor of APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University.

The court was hearing the appeal of the government against the single bench order that refused to overrule the decision of Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan, who is also the chancellor of the university, to appoint a vice-chancellor in-charge of his wish, neglecting the panel provided by the government.

The court also set aside the single bench order that asked the chancellor to form a search committee to appoint a permanent vice-chancellor for the institution. The division bench stated that the order violated UGC norms. The court had stayed the decision in December last year.

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Earlier, Justice Devan Ramachandran's bench directed the chancellor to complete the search-cum-selection process for the new VC while upholding the appointment of Prof Ciza. Hearing the appeal against this order, the division bench agreed with the Kerala government’s argument that the chancellor cannot decide the members of the search committee on his own.

The division bench asked the government to make a fresh recommendation to the chancellor if they want to remove Prof Ciza. The panel must include persons with the qualifications prescribed by the UGC. The governor can appoint from the panel.

However, the division bench refused to annul the appointment of Prof Ciza considering that it was made in a special situation.

UGC had told the court that the chancellor has to discuss VC appointments with the government. This is applicable in VC-in-charge appointments as well, it said.

The government argued that the appointment had happened without consultation. According to the KTU Act, the charge of the VC must be given to the pro-VC or the higher education principal secretary in case there is no permanent VC. Since the UGC regulation does not have specific rules on appointing a temporary VC, the university act must be followed, it argued. Chancellor had appointed Ciza, rejecting the government's recommendation to hand over the responsibility to state higher education principal secretary Ishita Roy IAS.

Prof CIza was appointed as the VC in-charge following the Supreme Court verdict sacking Dr Rajasree MS as KTU VC for violating UGC norms in her appointment.

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