Kochi: The Kerala High Court on Friday posed a number of questions to Arif Mohammed Khan, the Chancellor of universities, over the appointment of Dr Ciza Thomas as the temporary vice-chancellor (VC) of APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University, the erstwhile Kerala Technological University (KTU).
Among the questions raised by the bench were: How did the Chancellor come across the profile of Ciza in the matter? Were there other eligible candidates? Was the Pro VC not available? How did the Chancellor finalise Ciza as the VC of the tech university?
The court was hearing a petition filed by the Kerala Government against the appointment of Ciza Thomas, who was the senior joint director in the Directorate of Technical Education, as the acting VC of KTU.
The Governor doubles up as the Chancellor of universities.
As per the petition filed by the government, the Chancellor only recommends the Pro VC as a replacement. "There are no UGC (University Grants Commission) rules or special procedures for appointing temporary VCs," the petition stated.
The court then asked if there was any difference in powers if the VC was a temporary one.
The bench observed that the post of vice-chancellor entails many responsibilities and their selection should be done carefully while directing the selection and search committee to conduct a joint examination.
Meanwhile, the Chancellor responded to the court's questions that none of the candidates recommended by the state government were qualified to be considered for VC.
"As per the Supreme Court's verdict, the appointment of the digital varsity VC was also in doubt. Hence, I rejected the option," said the Chancellor.
According to the KTU Act, if the post of VC becomes vacant, the responsibility should be transferred either to another VC, the Pro VC or the Higher Education secretary. Citing this, the government termed the appointment of Dr Ciza Thomas as illegal and sought to cancel the Chancellor's order approving the same.
The Chancellor had earlier explained that the appointment was made by collating a list of professors with over 10 years of teaching experience in engineering colleges.
Recently, the Kerala government framed an Ordinance to divest the Governor of his powers as Chancellor. The Governor is yet to give assent to the Ordinance.