KERALA

VC's decision not final: Minister

KOZHIKODE, AUG. 21. The Education Minister, Nalakath Sooppy, has said the decision of the Calicut University Vice-Chancellor, Syed Iqbal Hasnain, to remove K. Kunhikrishnan from the post of Director of School of Distance Education (SDE) is not final.

Speaking to The Hindu here today, Mr. Sooppy, who is the Pro-Chancellor of the university, said that during his meeting with the Vice-Chancellor the latter had given his reasons for removing the Director from service. The Minister said doubts were raised about the fairness of the action. ``The Vice-Chancellor's decision is not final,'' he said.

Asked what the Government's response to the issue would be, the Minister said: ``We are considering various options.''

Contradictions

What the Minister said today contradicts with what the Vice-Chancellor had stated about his meeting with Mr. Sooppy in Thiruvananthapuram two days ago.

The Vice-Chancellor had claimed that he had convinced the Minister and the Higher Education Secretary, K. Mohandas, that the action taken against the Director was in line with university rules. He stuck to his stand that since the legal formalities that had to be followed in the appointment of teachers were not followed in the appointment of Mr. Kunhikrishnan as Director, SDE, the post had to be treated as belonging to non-teaching category and Mr. Kunhikrishnan was removed when he completed 55 years, the retirement age for non-teaching staff.

Judgment

Meanwhile, Mr. Kunhikrishnan has released copies of a High Court judgment issued on May 25, 2002, in which the judge had observed: ``I may not be taken as having accepted the contention of the university that the Director's post was not instituted as a teaching post. On the contrary, I am prima facie of the view that the contention of the university on this point is not tenable.''

The High Court had passed this order on a petition filed by Mr. Kunhikrishnan after his name did not figure in the list of teachers in the Academic Council.

The Chancellor had passed an ex parte order on Mr. Kunhikrishnan's petition on this matter upholding the university's view that he could not be treated as a teacher.

Mr. Kunhikrishnan said that in light of the High Court judgment the then Chancellor subsequently modified his earlier order and asked the university to follow the directions contained in the High Court order.

The Vice-Chancellor did not comment on the Minister's remark but reiterated that his decision was strictly in line with the provisions of the Calicut University Act.

Mr. Kunhikrishnan has sent a representation to the Chancellor, appealing him to annul the Vice-Chancellor's order. Only the Governor by virtue of his position as the University Chancellor has the authority to overrule the Vice Chancellor's decision.