Kerala High Court offers interim relief to Vice-Chancellors

Court restrains Governor Arif Mohammed Khan from passing any order on show-cause notices issued to VCs of eight universities till it decides on their writ petitions challenging the notice

Updated - November 09, 2022 09:52 am IST

Published - November 08, 2022 09:53 pm IST - KOCHI

Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan. File

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

The Kerala High Court on Tuesday restrained Governor Arif Mohammed Khan, in his capacity as Chancellor of universities, from passing final orders on the show cause notices he issued to Vice-Chancellors of eight varsities, until the court takes a call on the writ petitions filed by the latter seeking to quash the notices.

Mr. Khan had issued the notices to the Vice-Chancellors citing violation of University Grants Commission (UGC) norms in their appointment.

Justice Devan Ramachandran passed the interim order when the petitions by the VCs came up for hearing.

The show-cause notice asked the Vice-Chancellors why their appointments should not be declared void ab initio in view of a recent Supreme Court judgment. While annulling the appointment of Rajashree M.S. as the Vice-Chancellor, APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University, the Supreme Court had held that the appointment was made on the recommendations of a search committee that had not been constituted as per the UGC regulations.

When the petitions came up for hearing, Jaju Babu, senior counsel for the Chancellor, submitted that the Vice-Chancellors had already given their explanation to the Chancellor in response to the notices. He also sought three days to file an affidavit in the case. Counsel also submitted that the Chancellor was not able to file the affidavit as he was out of town and had returned recently.

When the petitions came up last week, the court had extended till November 7 the time granted to the Vice-Chancellors of the eight universities to reply to the show cause. The Chancellor had fixed November 3 and 4 as deadline for replying to the notices.

Also read | Vice-Chancellors to ‘politely’ respond to Kerala Governor citing University Acts and Statutes

The petitioners contended that they were issued show-cause notices as they had not responded to a letter written by the Chancellor asking them to resign. Since the High Court had already quashed the communication, the Chancellor should not have relied on it and issued show-cause notices. Besides, the Chancellor, being a statutory officer, was not legally competent to take a decision on whether the appointment of the Vice-Chancellors was void or not. The show-cause notice had been issued because of the misconception of the law laid down by the Supreme Court, the petitioners said.

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