Kerala High Court allows VCs to continue until Governor decides on ‘show cause notice’
The Kerala High Court on Monday has given an interim order and allowed the Vice Chancellors (VCs) of state’s nine universities to continue to serve in office until the Governor of Kerala, as the chancellor, takes a final decision on the show cause notice. This was after the Governor Arif Mohammed Khan on Sunday had asked the VCs to resign by Monday morning, on basis of fact that they were “either appointed from single-name panels or recommended by the search/ selection committee with non-academician as member”.
On Monday, the Governor had served the notice to all the Vice Chancellors to “show cause for their legal right to remain in the office”, for which they were to respond by November 3. Granting interim relief, the Kerala High Court had noted that as the Governor had already served notice to all the Vice Chancellors, the relevance of his seeking their resignations held no ground.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said, “If the Governor has found the appointment of the nine VCs to be illegal, he is responsible for that. The Governor is the appointing authority for the VCs. He is responsible if the appointments are illegal. Let the Governor think who should quit: he or the VCs. The Governor is acting at the behest of the Sangh Parivar. He is acting with a destructive mentality.”
Adding that the Governor office is not meant to pressurize the government, Chief Justice Vijayan said, “He (Khan) is abusing the office of the Governor. It is unconstitutional and against the essence of democracy. His directive to the VCs is an encroachment on the academic freedom of the universities and powers of a democratically-elected government. Don’t think that you can exercise the powers which you don’t actually have. It is similar to the foolishness of a lizard which thinks that it is holding up the ceiling. The Governor should understand the limitations of the Governor’s power, which is a remnant of the colonial era.’’
Meanwhile, Governor Khan has stood firm on his decision. “I have given them an opportunity to quit the office in a dignified manner. They don’t listen to the chancellor. They are listening to the LDF. Let them go to the Supreme Court with a review petition. Underqualified persons are appointed only because they belong to the party cadre,” he said.