Open University VC quits; Guv’s decision on fate of 3 other VCs likely on Monday

Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan. Photo: Manorama

Thiruvananthapuram: Vice-Chancellor of the Sree Narayanaguru Open University, Dr P M Mubarak Pasha, submitted his resignation ahead of a hearing scheduled by Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan, who is also the Chancellor of universities in the state.

The Governor had summoned the Vice-Chancellors of Calicut, Sanskrit, Digital and Open varsities, who were appointed in violation of UGC (University Grants Commission) rules, for a hearing on Saturday. Pasha skipped the hearing and no advocate representing him appeared as he had put in his papers. However, the Governor has yet to accept the resignation.

Meanwhile, the hearing of the Vice-Chancellors of Calicut, Sanskrit and Digital universities took place as scheduled, during which UGC representatives said they could not continue in their posts considering the Supreme Court judgment. The Governor, reportedly, is firm on implementing the apex court’s order.

The hearing was conducted based on a directive of the Kerala High Court. While Vice-Chancellor of Digital University Dr Saji Gopinath personally appeared for the hearing, Calicut University Vice-Chancellor Dr M K Jayarajan was represented by his advocate. At the same time, the advocate of Sanskrit University VC Dr T K Narayanan appeared online. All three Vice-Chancellors argued at the hearing that they were appointed as per the rules.

The Governor is currently in Chennai and will return to Thiruvananthapuram only on Sunday night. He is expected to decide on the issue on Monday.

Apart from the Governor, those who took part in the hearing included the Joint Secretary and Standing Counsel of the UGC, the standing counsel of the Governor and the Additional Chief Secretary at Raj Bhavan.

The Vice-Chancellor of the A P J Abdul Kalam Technological University Dr M S Rajasree was removed from the post by the Supreme Court in 2022 pointing out that she was appointed in violation of proper procedures. Subsequently, the Governor issued show-cause notices to 11 other Vice-Chancellors in Kerala who were selected similarly to explain why they shouldn’t be terminated. But, further procedures in this regard were stayed by the court. Seven of these Vice-Chancellors later vacated their posts after completing their terms or based on court orders. The hearing of the remaining four VCs was scheduled on Saturday based on another court directive.

While Calicut University’s VC was found ineligible as the Chief Secretary was included in the search committee, the Sanskrit University VC’s appointment was improper as only a single name was recommended, instead of a panel. For Open and Digital Universities, the state government had the power to appoint persons of their choice as the first V-C. After the universities gained UGC recognition, a search committee had to be constituted to appoint a new Vice-Chancellor; but this rule was not followed.

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