Tamil Nadu

How can you ignore Governor on probe against Surappa: HC

The judge decided to hear the case after the summer vacation.  

The Madras High Court on Friday questioned the State government for not having taken Governor Banwarilal Purohit, in his capacity as the Chancellor of Anna University, into confidence before constituting a Commission of Inquiry last year into the charges of bribery, corruption, malpractice, financial irregularities, irregular appointments and so on against M.K. Surappa, whose three-year tenure as Vice-Chancellor ended on April 11.

Justice M. Govindaraj asked how the government could “ignore” the Governor despite him being the administrative head of the university.

The question was posed when Additional Solicitor-General R. Sankaranarayanan, representing the Chancellor, said the Governor attempted to find an amicable solution to the hostile relationship between the government and Mr. Surappa, in the interest of the institution, but the government did not respond.

‘The sole purpose’

Mr. Surappa had made the Chancellor too as one of the respondents to a writ petition filed by him in February this year.

The petition had challenged a Government Order issued on November 11, 2020, for the constitution of the Commission of Inquiry. His counsel N. Vijayaraghavan contended that the sole purpose of the constitution of the Commission of Inquiry, under Section 11 of the Anna University Act, 1978, was to remove his client from the post of Vice-Chancellor.

Now that his tenure had come to an end by the efflux of time and no extension had been granted, there would be no use in continuing the inquiry, he said, insisting that the government be asked to respond as to whether it still wanted to continue the probe.

“Where are they going to remove me from? My residence? Their jurisdiction does extend beyond Chennai. What will they do if I go to Karnataka?” he asked.

In response, Special Government Pleader E. Manoharan said the Commission of Inquiry was being headed by a retired judge of the High Court. Since Advocate-General Vijay Narayan had to argue the case on behalf of the State, he urged the court to adjourn the matter to enable Mr. Narayan to appear.

Request granted

Accepting his request, the judge adjourned the case till June and extended, until further orders, an interim order passed by the court in favour of Mr. Surappa on February 27.

By way of the interim order, Justice S. Vaidyanathan, the then portfolio judge, had restrained the government from taking any decision, for a period of two weeks, if the Commission of Inquiry completed its probe and submitted a report.

On March 31, the interim order was extended till April 19. Since government counsel sought an adjournment on Friday, Justice Govindaraj decided to hear the case after the summer vacation and extended the interim relief until further orders.

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Printable version | May 9, 2021 11:41:13 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/how-can-you-ignore-governor-on-probe-against-surappa-hc/article34339965.ece

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