Vice-Chancellors can continue till Governor takes decision on show cause notice, says Kerala HC

The Court held a special sitting to hear the petitions with October 24 being a holiday on account of Deepavali

October 25, 2022 03:05 am | Updated 11:32 am IST - KOCHI

Kerala Governor Arif Muhammed Khan. File.

Kerala Governor Arif Muhammed Khan. File. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Giving temporary relief to the eight Vice-Chancellors of the Universities, the Kerala High Court on Monday declared that the Vice-Chancellors can continue in services until they are removed as per the law by the Governor in his capacity as Chancellor of the universities after getting their explanations in response to the showcase notice issued to them.

Justice Devan Ramachandran made the declaration while disposing of the writ petitions filed by the Vice-Chancellors of the eight universities challenging the communication issued by the Chancellor to them asking to resign from the post in view of the observation of the Supreme Court Judgment that quashed the appointment of the Vice-Chancellor of the APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University.

The Court held a special sitting to hear the petitions with October 24 being a holiday on account of Deepavali.

The Court observed that the relevance of the communication of the Chancellor had been lost by now in view of the submission by the counsel for the Chancellor that they had been issued show cause notice.

The Court, therefore, said, that it was unmistakable that since the Chancellor had given them the opportunity to offer an explanation to the show cause notice against the proposed act, it was obvious that they were still in service and were eligible to continue until they were removed as per the law.

Counsel for the Chancellor, Jaju Babu submitted that the Chancellor had acted completely bona fide and never intended to cause any consternation to any Vice-Chancellor. The Chancellor had offered them an honorable exit so that the matter would end there and fresh action could be initiated in terms of the mandate of the Supreme Court judgments. As the Chancellor had found flaws in their appointments, he was constrained to act. In fact, as they had not tendered resignations, they had been issued a show-cause notice and asked to give their explanations within 10 days.

The Court said that it could not give the imprimatur to the contention that the Chancellor was giving only advice to the eight Vice-Chancellors to save them from the ignominy of being removed by asking them to resign. The Court said that one could not force someone to tender a resignation.

The Court also wondered how the Chancellor’s communication could have said that the Vice-Chancellors would cease to be in office with effect from October 22 if the Chancellor was of the opinion that their appointments were void ab-initio.

The Court added that a proper inquiry and thought ought to have been invested, particularly when the petitioners had specific cases to their factual scenarios.

The Court left open all the contentions of the petitioners, including the arguments that the Chancellor had no jurisdiction to initiate the action against the VCs.

Vice-Chancellors of the University of Kerala, Mahatma Gandhi University, Cochin University of Science and Technology, Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies, Kannur University, Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, the University of Calicut and Thunchath Ezhuthachan Malayalam University had challenged the Chancellor’s communication.

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