Kerala: VCs' legal challenges cost universities over one crore in funds

This was revealed in a reply by Higher Education Minister R Bindu in the assembly.
Representative image
Representative image

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Seven of the nine vice-chancellors who received marching orders from Governor Arif Mohammed Khan in his capacity as Chancellor in 2022, spent a total of Rs 1.13 crore of their respective university’s funds to challenge his order in courts. This was revealed in a reply by Higher Education Minister R Bindu in the assembly.

The reply by the minister, to a question by Perumbavoor MLA Eldhose Kunnappilly, also showed that around Rs 8 lakh was spent by Kannur University for the case relating to the appointment of Priya Varghese, wife of Chief Minister’s Private Secretary K K Ragesh, as Associate Professor in the varsity.

As per the reply, then VCs of Kannur University and The Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies (Kufos) engaged senior counsel K K Venugopal to fight their case. Calicut University incurred an expense of Rs 4.25 lakh as the then VC sought the services of a senior advocate instead of the varsity’s standing counsel in the High Court.

When the case related to Priya Varghese was being considered by the High Court, the Kannur University counsel was replaced by a senior advocate, costing the varsity Rs 6.5 lakh. University officials said it was a strange for a varsity to spend lakhs of rupees from its accounts on a case filed by the VCs challenging their disqualification by the Chancellor.

The Save University Campaign Committee (SUCC), a whistleblower’s collective, termed the former VCs’ act illegal.

“At a time when university officials themselves have to bear legal expenses of the cases against them, it is illegal to spend the universities’ money on cases filed by the VCs,” the SUCC said in a statement. It demanded that the money be recovered from the then VCs or from the syndicate members who approved spending varsity funds on the cases.

In October 2022, Khan had directed VCs of nine universities to resign following a Supreme Court order. He had alleged violations of the University Grants Commission (UGC) norms in their appointment process.

oh dear battle!

Varsity fund spent by VCs

  • Gopinath Ravindran (Kannur University): Rs 69,25,340

  • Riji K John (Kufos): Rs 35,71,311

  • M S Rajasree (KTU): Rs 1,47,515

  • M K Jayaraj (Calicut University): Rs 4,25,000

  • K N Madhusoodanan (Cusat): Rs 77,500

  • V Anil Kumar (Malayalam University): Rs 1 lakh

  • P M Mubarak Pasha (SNG Open University): Rs 53,000

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