Governor directs varsities to recover expenses for litigation pursued by V-Cs against his orders

Published - July 10, 2024 07:19 pm IST - THIRUVANANTHAPURAM

Governor Arif Mohammed Khan has flagged “illegal payments” made by universities to meet the expenses of litigation pursued by Vice-Chancellors and other officers against his orders.

Noting that sanctioning funds for legal expenses incurred in such cases was “not justifiable” and a “misuse of university funds”, Mr. Khan, who is the Chancellor of State-run universities, issued directives to recover such expenses from those officials on whose behalf payments had been made.

The Governor took a dim view of universities sanctioning funds for officers, who were party to legal proceedings against him, “in order to safeguard or promote their personal interests and in matters no way connected to the interests of the university”.

In a move that could further antagonise the State government, he also barred the universities from bearing the legal expenses of officials engaged in litigation against the Chancellor or the respective university. The universities were also directed to furnish the details of such payments as well as the current status of the refunds as ordered by the Chancellor.

In a petition submitted to the Governor, the Save University Campaign Committee had highlighted disclosures made by Higher Education Minister R. Bindu in the Assembly on legal expenses incurred by universities for fighting cases for Vice-Chancellors against the notices of termination that had been served on them by the Chancellor.

The universities allegedly “misused” nearly ₹1.13 crore of public funds in the Supreme Court and the Kerala High Court for such purposes, the complainant alleged.

The data tabled in the House revealed that Kannur University had spent ₹69.25 lakh in connection with the protracted legal battle involving former Vice-Chancellor Gopinath Ravindran. Furthermore, the Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies, Calicut University, and APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University sanctioned ₹35.71 lakh, ₹4.25 lakh, and ₹1.47 lakh respectively for similar purposes.

The complainant also accused Kannur University of spending ₹7.8 lakh to fight the case challenging the contentious appointment of Priya Varghese, the wife of Chief Minister’s private secretary K.K. Ragesh, as Associate Professor.

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