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Kerala High Court permits VC of 9 universities to continue till governor takes final decision

The 9 Vice Chancellors of Universities in Kerala who had been ordered to resign by the Chancellor of Universities, the Governor of Kerala, Arif Mohammed Khan, received relief from the Kerala High Court in a special session conducted.
The statement was given by Justice Devan Ramachandran in response to writ petitions filed by the vice chancellors of universities contesting the Chancellor’s request that they resign from their positions in light of the Supreme Court decision that invalidated the appointment of the vice chancellor of the APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University.

The Court noted that, given the claim made by the Chancellor’s attorney that they had received a show cause notice, the communication from the Chancellor had already lost its relevance.
The Court concluded that it was clear that they were still employed and qualified to do so until they were terminated in accordance with the law because the Chancellor had given them the chance to respond to the show cause notice against the intended act.

The Court further questioned how, if the Governor believed that the Vice Chancellors’ appointments were invalid from the start, he could have said that their terms of office would expire on October 21.
The Court further stated that due diligence and consideration should have been given, particularly in light of the petitioners’ unique instances and factual scenarios. All of the parties’ arguments, including the one that the Governor lacks the authority to start the action, have been left open by the court.

The Court stated in the ruling that “the petitioners’ contention that the Chancellor cannot issue a show cause notice is also left open and that all of the petitioners’ remedies to even impugn the same are left open.”

The Chancellor’s attorney, Jaju Babu, argued that the Chancellor had acted entirely in good faith and had never sought to upset any Vice-Chancellor. The matter would have ended there and new action may have been taken in accordance with the directive of the Supreme Court verdicts if the Chancellor had not offered them an honourable exit.
The Chancellor was forced to take action because he discovered issues with their nominations. In fact, they had been sent a show-cause notice and requested to provide their justifications within 10 days because they had not tendered resignations.

The petitioners’ attorneys argued during the case hearing that the judgment cited by the chancellor in the impugned communication could not be applied to the petitioners because the Supreme Court had rendered the decision while taking into account the 2010 UGC regulations, whereas they had been appointed under the 2018 regulations.
They further stated that, in accordance with the requirements of the University Act, the Chancellor may only remove a Vice Chancellor by a written order if there has been misappropriation, improper administration of money, or misbehavior.

The appointment of Dr. Rajasree M. S. as vice chancellor of APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University was revoked by the Supreme Court. The court made the observation that, in accordance with the rules of the University Grants Commission (UGC), the search committee established by the state was required to recommend a panel of at least three suitable candidates among eminent individuals in the field of engineering science to the chancellor, but instead it sent only one name.
In spite of the fact that the committee had just proposed Rajasree’s name, it was noted that “as per Section 13(4) of the University Act, 2015, the committee shall recommend unanimously a panel of not fewer than three suitable candidates.”

Ahir Mitra
Ahir Mitra

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