TN Governor names 3 V-C selection panels, state government questions his authority

Higher Education Minister K Ponmudy questioned the authority of the governor to appoint search-cum-selection committees for picking the vice-chancellors for state universities. 
Higher Education Minister K Ponmudy. (File Photo)
Higher Education Minister K Ponmudy. (File Photo)

CHENNAI:  In another tug-of-war between the Tamil Nadu government and Governor R N Ravi, state higher education minister K Ponmudy questioned the authority of the governor to appoint search-cum-selection committees for picking the vice-chancellors for state universities. 

A statement issued by the minister, a few hours after the governor formed three panels for selecting V-Cs of the University of Madras, Bharathiyar University, and Tamil Nadu Teachers Education University — said under the rules governing the 13 state higher education universities, a governor cannot appoint the search committee members.  

“There are 13 higher education universities in Tamil Nadu and there are separate rules and laws governing them.  According to these rules, once the tenure of an incumbent gets over, search committees are formed to choose the next V-C.  

After the tenure of V-C of Bharathiyar University ended on October 17, 2022, and Tamil Nadu Teachers Education University V-C's tenure ended on November 30, 2022, the state formed search committees and the same was published in the government gazette. So far, no governor has appointed search committees on their own and there is no place for that in the rules,” the minister’s press release said.   

This action of the governor is entirely against law, rules and convention. On the lines of  Telangana and Gujarat, the Tamil Nadu Assembly passed a bill to give powers of appointing V-Cs to the state government on April 25, 2022, and sent it to the governor on April 28, 2022. But he has not given his assent to the bill.

The government will face the issue legally, Ponmudy said.  According to a Raj Bhavan release, the panels formed by the governor to pick the VCs of three universities will include representatives of the governor/chancellor and UGC representatives.

Panels will suggest 3 names each for V-C appointments

According to a Raj Bhavan press release, the search-cum-selection committees formed to pick the V-Cs of the three universities include representatives of the Governor/chancellor, state government, senate and syndicate of the university concerned and UGC representatives.

The selection committee for V-C of Madras University comprises Battu Satyanarayana, vice-chancellor, Central University of Karnataka, as chancellor’s nominee/convener; K Deenabandu, retired IAS officer and member of state planning commission as syndicate nominee; P Jagadeesan, former VC, Bharathidasan University, as senate nominee; and HCS Rathore, former V-C, Central University of South Bihar, as UGC chairman’s nominee.

The selection committee for Bharathiar University, Coimbatore, comprises PWC Davidar, retired IAS officer as the government nominee/convener; Prof Dr P Duraisamy, former Madras University V-C as syndicate nominee; Col G Thiruvasagam, former V-C of Bharathiar University and Madras University, as senate nominee; and B Thimmegowda, former V-C, Bangalore University as UGC nominee.

The selection committee for V-C of Tamil Nadu Teachers Education University, Chennai, comprises Sushma Yadava, member, UGC, as chancellor’s nominee/convener; K Allaudin, retired IAS officer, as government nominee; T Padmanaban, former V-C of Tamil Nadu Teachers Education University as syndicate nominee; and HCS Rathore, former V-C, Central University of South Bihar, as UGC chairman’s nominee.

The panels will recommend three names each to the chancellor/governor for the appointment of V-Cs to the universities.

Another legal wrangle As per a 2018 UGC regulation, one member of the V-C search panel shall be nominated by the UGC chairman. But Tamil Nadu Universities Laws Act 2017 states that a three-member search committee for selecting university VCs must only have state govt, senate & syndicate nominees.

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