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The Hindu
The Hindu
Abdul Latheef Naha

SC verdict a setback to Chancellor, not Kerala Govt., says Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has lashed out at Governor Arif Mohammed Khan, who is also the Chancellor of Kannur University, for the setback to the reappointment of Gopinath Ravindran as Vice Chancellor of Kannur University in November 2021.

The Supreme Court on November 30 rescinded the reappointment, saying that the Chancellor’s decision had been influenced by extraneous considerations.

Addressing the media during the ongoing Navakerala Sadas at Kulappully, near Shoranur, Palakkad district, on December 1 (Friday), the Chief Minister accused Mr. Khan of “dancing to the tune of some external forces.”

Mr. Vijayan said that the Supreme Court judgment was a blow to the Chancellor, and not to his government.

“The Supreme Court has criticised the Chancellor for his flawed decision. He is trying to pass the buck on to the government,” said Mr. Vijayan.

The Chief Minister said that his government had done nothing to impede or thwart the decision-making powers of Mr. Khan as the Chancellor of Kannur University. “He got a setback from the Supreme Court because he presented the facts in a flawed manner. He is trying to portray himself as being under extraneous pressures,” said Mr. Vijayan.

The Chief Minister said that it was strange that the Chancellor told the Supreme Court that his decision to reappoint Mr. Ravindran as Kannur University Vice Chancellor was against the UGC norms. “It was strange and inscrutable. He made the appointment. And later, he was saying that it was against the UGC rules. But the court corrected him saying that it was not against the UGC norms,” said Mr. Vijayan.

Three legal points

The Chief Minister said that the Supreme Court had examined three legal points and found that the reappointment was not in violation of any laws. The court observed that there was nothing wrong in reappointing a vice chancellor because it was a tenure post. The court also found that age ceiling was not applicable for Mr. Ravindran’s reappointment. The court also observed that the procedures of a search committee were not needed for the Vice Chancellor’s reappointment, he said.

“According to the Supreme Court, there was nothing illegal about the reappointment of Mr. Ravindran. Still the Chancellor, the appointing authority, said that the reappointment was in violation of the UGC norms. Only Mr. Khan is to blame,” said Mr. Vijayan.

The Chief Minister rebuffed Mr. Khan’s claims that the Chief Minister’s Office had sent an envoy to him with the Advocate General’s legal advice on the reappointment of Mr. Ravindran. “It is not true. The Advocate General’s legal advice was given to the Additional Chief Secretary of the Higher Education department. The Higher Education department forwarded it to Raj Bhavan. In the meantime, an envoy from the Chief Minister’s Office visited the Chancellor and explained to him about the implications of the university laws. That visit was as per Mr. Khan’s demand,” said the Chief Minister.

Mr. Vijayan also questioned the propriety of interpreting a communication between the Pro-Chancellor and the Chancellor as an external pressure on the Chancellor.

The Chief Minister said that Prof. Ravindran, a well-known historian, had made notable contributions to Kerala’s higher education. “He expressed his opinions fearlessly. We can understand that there may be external pressures on the Chancellor to drive an academic like Mr. Ravindran away from Kerala,” said Mr. Vijayan.

He said those interpreting the Supreme Court verdict as a setback for the Kerala Government were the perpetrators of “communal and destructive ideologies”, and they were trying not to miss any chance to tarnish Kerala and its secular credentials.

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