Kerala HC directs Guv to consider objection of VCs against show cause notice

The court instructed the Governor to make a final decision within a span of six weeks.
Kerala High Court.
Kerala High Court.File photo

KOCHI: The Kerala High Court on Thursday directed Governor Arif Mohammed Khan, who serves as the Chancellor of all universities, to review the objections submitted by the university Vice Chancellors who have received show cause notices.

The court instructed the Governor to make a final decision within a span of six weeks.

Additionally, the Chancellor is tasked with determining the legality and jurisdiction of issuing the show cause notices.

Furthermore, the Chancellor is to assess the merits of the alleged violation of UGC Regulations, guided by the legal principles established in the case of Rajasree by the Supreme Court.

Justice Mohammed Nias C P emphasized the importance of providing Vice Chancellors with a fair opportunity for a hearing, ensuring their cooperation in resolving the matter within the stipulated time set by the court.

Kerala High Court.
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The court issued the order while disposing of the petitions filed by the Vice Chancellors of Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, Kalady, University of Calicut, Kerala University of Digital Sciences, Innovation and Technology and Sree Narayana Open University challenging the show cause notices issued to them on behalf of the Chancellor based on the judgment of the Supreme Court.

In the notice, the Chancellor had asked the VCs to explain what legal right they have to hold the office after the Supreme Court quashed the appointment of MS Rajasree, VC of APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University for being contrary to University Grants Commission (UGC) norms. The notice also stated that on failure to show cause, the Chancellor may declare the appointment of VCs as illegal and 'ab initio void'.

The court said that while considering the objections filed by the Vice Chancellors, the Chancellor should separately deal with the question of the legality of the show cause notices issued and also on merits on the constitution of the Search Committee and whether the appointments are in terms of the applicable UGC Regulations.

After pronouncing the judgment, the counsel for the petitioners made a request to give a breathing time to challenge in case adverse orders are passed by the Chancellor against them.

"The request appears to be reasonable, taking note of the fact that all along there were interim orders in favour of the petitioners. Accordingly, it is directed that the orders to be passed by the Chancellor will not be given effect to for a period of ten days from the date of passing of the order," said the court.

The petitioner had filed their objections before the Chancellor and sought an opportunity for a hearing. Accordingly, the single judge had issued an interim order directing that the final order of the Chancellor shall not be issued until these writ petitions are finally disposed of.

The petition filed by PG Romeo seeking a writ of quo warranto against the VC, Sree Narayana Open University, N Prasantha Kumar against VC of Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, Kalady, and Muhammedali against VC of University of Calicut will be heard after six weeks.

The petitioners argued that the VCs had no right to hold the post in view of the Supreme Court order.

P Ramdas

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