Appointment row: High Court lists out grounds for disqualification of Priya Varghese

Kerala High Court. Photo: E V Sreekumar.

Kochi: The Kerala High Court on Thursday found Priya Varghese unqualified to be posted as Malayalam associate professor at Kannur University. While ordering a re-examination of her appointment, the court made it clear that further decisions on the issue will only be taken after the probe.

The bench, led by Justice Devan Ramachandran, ensured the reasons for Priya's disqualification were laid out loud and clear. The court observed that four of the postings during the period of service claimed by Priya could not be considered as teaching experience. They are:

  • Her posting as a lecturer in Malayalam at Kannur BEd centre on an ad-hoc basis. This can’t be included in the service in her capacity as assistant professor while considering her for the post of associate professor.
  • The research period for acquiring a PhD under the Faculty Development Programme too can’t be counted as teaching experience. The UGC stipulation is that only the period when one carries out the research and the teaching simultaneously can be taken into account. Priya herself mentioned in her affidavit that she took up no teaching assignments during her research period.
  • Though the post of Student Services Director at Kannur University, which she served, can be included in the teaching category as per the provisions, it is essentially a non-teaching position. So is her time as coordinator of the National Service Scheme (NSS).
  • Priya was assistant director at the Kerala Bhasha Institute and organised seminars and delivered lectures to students and faculty in the higher education sector. However, this can’t be included in the teaching assignment and considered as teaching experience. It’s only an institution indulged in the publishing of academic books.

The court further stated that no university is above the rules and regulations laid out by the UGC.

Priya is the wife of K K Ragesh, the private secretary to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan had cancelled her appointment citing nepotism.

The college lecturer's case has been one of the highlights of the ongoing tussle between Governor Khan and the Kerala government. The court had stayed her appointment on the petition of Dr Joseph Scariah, who questioned her eligibility after being allegedly overlooked despite having better academic experience.

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