Priya Varghese appointment: UGC moves SC seeking cancellation of HC order

Priya Varghese. Photo: Manorama

New Delhi: The UGC on Tuesday filed a petition in the Supreme Court demanding cancellation of the order of the Kerala High Court, which upheld the appointment of Priya Varghese, the wife of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's secretary, K K Ragesh, as an Associate Professor at Kannur University.

On June 22 this year, a division bench of the Kerala High Court overturned a single bench judgement that asked to re-scrutinise her appointment after the second-ranked candidate raised objections against it, which, according to the petitioner, was in violation of the UGC guidelines.

In its petition filed before the apex court, the UGC pointed out that her appointment does not meet the rules and regulations prescribed by the UGC 2018 Act.

The point of contention that the single judge bench emphasised was that while counting the number of years of experience, periods spent in non-teaching activities cannot be counted as teaching experience, and Varghese did not qualify as she had included her service in non-teaching roles.

But the Division Bench overruled it.

Thus Varghese got relief, and that gave Kannur University the opportunity to appoint her. Last month, her appointment order was issued, and she was asked to report for duty in 15 days.

After the green light for her appointment, the CPI (M) leadership criticised those who opposed the appointment. Ragesh, a former Rajya Sabha member of the CPI (M), hails from Kannur and is considered to be a close aide of Vijayan.

The controversy erupted last year when a RTI query revealed that Varghese got the maximum marks (32 out of 50) in the personal interview, while the second-ranked candidate, Jacob Skariah, scored 30. Varghese's research score was a mere 156, while the second-ranked candidate secured 651. However, Varghese was ranked first based on the personal interview.

Soon the Congress and the BJP raked up the issue, and the controversy continues to rage. The apex court is expected to hear the matter very soon.

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