Kerala Guv questions legal sanctity of Bill to replace Chancellor of universities

Arif Mohammad Khan | File Photo: J SURESH / Manorama
Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan. File Photo: J Suresh/Manorama

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan on Thursday questioned the legal sanctity of the provisions in the bill being brought by the Left government to replace Governor with eminent academicians as Chancellor of the universities in the State, claiming that any provision repugnant to UGC regulations cannot become law.

The Governor said the Supreme Court has clearly laid down that if the State law is repugnant to UGC regulations, the UGC regulation shall prevail.

"The UGC regulations have been made, taking this fact into consideration that the governor is ex-officio chancellor of Universities", Khan told reporters here. He was responding to a query on the Government's decision to move a Bill in the State Assembly, when it convenes from December 5, for replacing the Governor with eminent academicians as Chancellor of the universities in Kerala. "Anything...any provision whatever bill they pass, if it is repugnant to UGC regulations, it cannot become law," the Governor said. He alleged that the government was making such a move as "they are totally frustrated."

"If anybody tries to tinker with that system, UGC...that will be repugnant to UGC regulations. So, you don't worry about these things. They are taking out their frustration. They are feeling totally frustrated", Khan said.

He said the law is very clear-- universities are the responsibility of the Chancellor, not of the government. "University, legally speaking, is not your responsibility. You are interfering in the affairs of the University everyday. And I must say to you that my idea of University is ---although by law chancellor has the power-- but my idea of university is not the job of the chancellor to run the university. It is the job of the Vice Chancellor", he said.

Khan said the job of the chancellor is to ensure that no interference--either from the executive or from anywhere-- is made in the functioning of the University.

"The autonomy of the University is respected. The dignity of the intellect is respected and we again are able to create a situation where young women and men of Kerala...they are not forced to leave their homes and go to other States to pursue higher studies", the Governor said.

His statement came a day after the Cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan decided to make necessary amendments to the rules of the 14 public universities in the State for replacing the Governor with eminent academicians. The draft Bill also provides that the government will have the power to remove the appointed Chancellor from office on the basis of an inquiry conducted by a former judge of the Supreme Court or High Court in case of serious allegations of misconduct against him or her. The Governor said eminent academicians like CNR Rao and K N Panicker have said although Kerala is 100 per cent literate, every bright student of the state does not stay here to pursue higher studies.

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