'Only On Merit': Kerala Governor Attacks CM Vijayan Over Hirings In Universities

Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan alleged that the governor's office was being denigrated and demeaned, and that every trick was being used to put pressure on him and threaten him with assassination.

By Shivam Shandilya
Sat, 17 Sep 2022 11:45 AM IST
Minute Read
'Only On Merit': Kerala Governor Attacks CM Vijayan Over Hirings In Universities
Kerela Governor Arif Mohammad Khan and CM Pinarayi Vijayan (ANI)

KERELA Governor Arif Mohammad Khan said on Saturday that all university appointments will be made on merit and that he will not delegate the authority to appoint vice-chancellors to the state government because it amounts to "executive interference."

"Everything will be considered on merit. The government cannot be given the power to appoint the Vice Chancellors. I am saying it clearly, this will amount to executive interference," said Khan said on the matter of the University Laws Amendment Bill.

"The Chief Minister (Pinarayi Vijayan) had written to me assuring me that there would be no interference, and now they are proposing that they will appoint a Vice-Chancellor. That would mean the erosion of autonomy of educational institutions,the Kerela Governor added, mentioning that as long as he remains in power, he won't let universities' autonomy erode."

"As long as I am here, I won't allow the erosion of the autonomy of universities, "he said.

He also mentioned that "underqualified and unqualified people" cannot be appointed just because they are associated with the CM.

"Underqualified and unqualified people, because they belong to the personal staff of the Chief Minister, cannot be allowed to be appointed... The institutions belong to Kerala, not to the ones dressed in little briefs of authority," he added.

Earlier, CM Vijayan also lashed out at Governor Arif Mohammed Khan over his statement on alleged nepotism in appointments in the state universities, saying what he said was "absurd".

Addressing a press conference, the Chief Minister urged the Governor to maintain the dignity of his position. In response to Khan's allegations, he asked, "Is this what the position of Governor entails?"

The Kerala government passed the University Laws Amendment Bill this month, which aims to limit the Governor's power in selecting vice-chancellors. The bill has been pending before the Governor since then.

Khan also alleged that the governor's office was being denigrated and demeaned, and that every trick was being used to put pressure on him and threaten him with assassination.

He claimed that the Kannur University VC was used to ensure his presence in Kannur, and he described the attack on him as a "conspiracy."

"When they tried to make a physical attack on me at Kannur, it was a conspiracy. And the Vice Chancellor of Kannur University was used to ensure that I was present there, so that they could attack me, "he said.

He also said that he was happy as the CM has come out openely now.

"I am so happy that the Chief Minister has come out openly. He has given the statement. I welcome his statement. Because now at least he is not trying to play the game from behind the curtain," he added.

"I have been writing to him for the last three years repeatedly. It is the constitutional duty to brief me regularly. He never paid any attention. I write letters to him, but he doesn't reply. I called him and he didn't call back. I will produce all the documentary evidence as I have definite information," the Kerala Governor said.

Speaking to mediapersons, Governor Khan said, "Whatever decision I take shall be dictated by the requirements, rather the obligations, which I have on me and that is to decide every issue on the basis of constitutionality, law and its spirit."

The Governor stayed the appointment of Priya Varghese, wife of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's private secretary and CPI (M) leader KK Ragesh, as an Associate Professor in Kannur University's Malayalam department.

Varghese is currently the deputy director of the Kerala Basha Institute. Varghese was an assistant professor at Kerala Varma College in Thrissur and was on deputation at Basha Institute as deputy director.

Earlier in 2021, Kerala Higher Education Minister R Bindu issued a letter recommending the reappointment of Gopinath Ravindran (former VC of the university) as its Vice-Chancellor.

In a letter to the Governor dated November 22, 2021, she recommended that Gopinath Ravindran be allowed to continue as Vice-Chancellor for another term and that the notification dated October 27, this year appointing a Search-cum-Selection committee to identify the person to be appointed as Vice-Chancellor be cancelled.

In a subsequent letter dated November 22, 2021, the higher education minister stated that steps had been taken to withdraw the notification inviting applications to select a vice chancellor for Kannur University, following which Bindu welcomed the Lokayukta's decision to re-appoint Ravindran as the university's vice-chancellor.

However, both the Kerala High Court and the Supreme Court dismissed a writ petition, ruling that the impugned appointment violated no statutory provisions in the "reappointment" of the man concerned as the Vice-Chancellor.


(With Agency Inputs)

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