Kerala Governor hardens his position on signing of Bills passed in State Assembly

Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan accused the State government of attempting to ‘legalise all illegalities’ and clarified that he was not a mere rubber stamp

September 15, 2022 05:33 pm | Updated September 16, 2022 08:42 am IST - KOTTAYAM

Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan. File

Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan. File | Photo Credit: The Hindu

In a further hardening of his position against the State government over the new set of Bills passed by the Legislative Assembly, Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan on Thursday accused the State government of attempting to ‘legalise all illegalities’ and clarified that he was not a mere rubber stamp.

“I have made it repeatedly clear that the Assembly has every right to pass and adopt any measure. But I have a duty to perform and obligation to see that whatever I have been asked to sign is exactly in accordance with the Constitution, its spirit and also the well established conventions, not just in India but all over the world’’, he told media persons on the sidelines of a function at the Mahatma Gandhi University in Kottayam.

To a query on the University Laws Amendment Bill, which aims to curtail the power of the Governor in the selection of vice-chancellors, , Mr. Khan stated that he would not allow any attempt to dilute the autonomy of the universities.

“From whatever I have read from newspapers, one thing I can make clear that I shall not allow the autonomy of the university to be diluted. I shall not allow the executive interference in the universities, which means govt. trying to take the power of appointment in its own hands, which will result in erosion of autonomy. Autonomy, as far as the universities are concerned, is a sacred concept’’, he asserted.

In a veiled reference to the row over backdoor appointments in the varsities, the Governor also sought to know how he could permit the appointment of ‘under-qualified and unqualified relatives of those in power’, which also included relatives of the personal staff of the Chief Minister.

“I had said earlier I will give up my Chancellor position. And I still do not want to continue but if I’m the chancellor, I will not allow to be used as a rubber stamp’’, he added.

On the Lok Ayukta Amendment Bill, the Governor pointed to the principle of basic jurisprudence, which suggested that a person should not be the judge of his own cause. “It’s my duty because ultimately democratically elected government does not mean that it will break the law. I can not sit in judgement in a complaint that is made against me”, he said.

Despite stiff opposition by UDF members and their subsequent boycott, the Kerala Assembly on August 30 and September 1 passed the controversial Lok Ayukta (Amendment) and University Laws Amendment Bills, respectively.

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