KANNUR: The two-year-long legal battle waged by the Kerala Private College Teachers’ Association (KPCTA) with the support of the Save University Campaign ended on a high note for the teachers’ body with the Supreme Court on Thursday cancelling Prof Gopinath Ravindran’s reappointment as the vice-chancellor of Kannur University.
The SC flat has come as a huge setback for the government, which had claimed that everything was done as per the rules and regulations of the university.
Gopinath’s reappointment as the VC in 2021 had caused an uproar with Opposition parties terming it a quid pro quo for appointing Priya Varghese, the wife of K K Ragesh, the private secretary of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, in the varsity. KPCTA Kannur region secretary Dr Shino P Jose and state general secretary Dr Premachandran Keezhoth had moved the HC challenging the technicalities in the government’s move. Governor Arif Mohammed Khan’s statement that he was forced to sign Gopinath’s reappointment order had added to the furore.
The KPCTA had suffered a jolt in the HC after both the single and division benches dismissed its petitions. While the HC only considered the legal aspects, the petitioners argued that technical aspects like age should be checked while considering a person’s name for reappointment as VC. However, the government contended that such aspects should be considered only for first-time appointments. Accepting the argument, the HC division bench okayed the reappointment and also dismissed the petitioners’ demand that the trial be extended in the wake of Khan’s revelations.
After his term ended in November 2021, Gopinath was reappointed the Kannur University VC two days later on November 23 for another four years. This was the first time in the state that a VC was being reappointed.
Making matters worse for the government, Governor Khan wrote to the CM saying since there was political interference in the reappointment, he could not continue as the Chancellor bowing to political pressure. Later, the letter written by Higher Education Minister R Bindu demanding Gopinath’s reappointment was leaked in the media, exposing the government’s claim that there was no political interference.