New Delhi: The LDF government on Thursday, November 10, ordered the removal of governor Arif Mohammad Khan as the chancellor of Kerala Kalamandalam.
The move comes amid the state government’s ongoing tussle with Khan over the functioning of universities, including appointment of vice-chancellors, in the state.
The government had on November 9 decided to come out with an ordinance to replace the governor as the chancellor of the universities and appoint eminent academicians to that post.
Incidentally, the governor himself has to sign the ordinance divesting him of the position as chancellor of universities in the state for it to become a law. However, he’s unlikely to sign it.
According to The Hindu, the Pinarayi Vijayan government has plans to get the ordinance tabled in the state assembly as a Bill in the event of the governor refusing to give his assent.
However, the government’s move has been opposed by both the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party in the state which have alleged that the ordinance was aimed at turning universities in Kerala into “Communist centres”.
They also alleged that if the ordinance is promulgated, all appointments – including that of vice-chancellors – in the universities would be decided at the AKG Centre, the state headquarters of the ruling CPI(M).
However, according to Mathrubhumi, Khan’s assent is not required in the case of Kalamandalam since it is a deemed university.
According to the modified clauses, the sponsor can appoint the chancellor. In this case, the Kerala government is the sponsor of Kalamandalam.
The rule regarding the tenure of the chancellor was also amended.
The amended clause on tenure says that “the chancellor shall hold office for a term of five years from the date of assuming office and shall be eligible for reappointment for one more term, provided no person shall be eligible to hold the office on attaining the age of 75 years.”
The governor was appointed as chancellor in 2015 through an executive order, the news outlet reported.
On October 23, governor Khan had asked the vice-chancellors of nine universities to tender their resignation within 24 hours due to discrepancies in the selection process.
However, the state government had asked the vice-chancellors to stay put, defying the governor’s orders.
Chief minister Vijayan in a press conference had alleged that the governor’s move was an encroachment on the powers of a democratically elected government. He had said that the chancellor has no authority to seek the vice-chancellors’ resignations.
According to the governor’s office, his decision was based on the October 21 order of the Supreme Court.
The top court had cancelled the appointment of Rajasree M.S. as the vice-chancellor of A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Technical University, observing that it was made against the University Grant Commission’s norms.
It said that a search committee to appoint a vice-chancellor should recommend a panel of three names to the chancellor; however, it sent only one name.
Following the judgment, the governor had asked the vice-chancellors of nine universities in the state to resign. These universities include Mahatma Gandhi University, Cochin University of Science and Technology, Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies, Kannur University, Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, University of Calicut and Thunchath Ezhuthachan Malayalam University.
While Rajashree’s appointment had been annulled by the apex court, Kerala University vice-chancellor, V.P. Mahadevan Pillai, will retire on October 24.