The Kerala High Court on Friday quashed the order of the Chancellor of the APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University, Arif Mohammed Khan, who is also the Governor of the State, suspending the resolutions issued by the Syndicate and Board of Governors of the University.
Justice Sathish Ninan passed the above order noting that the proviso to Section 10(3) of the APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University Act, 2015 (hereinafter, 'Act, 2015') contemplates the opportunity to show cause before the issuance of any such order suspending or modifying any resolution of any authority.
"When the power is traced under a statutory provision, compliance in terms thereof is the mandate. Where the law prescribes a thing to be done in a particular manner and following a particular procedure, it shall be done in the same manner following the provisions of law, without deviating from the prescribed procedure," the Court observed.
The KTU Syndicate had resolved to constitute a 'Syndicate Standing Committee on University Administrative Affairs' in order to give administrative support to the Vice Chancellor and Registrar of the University. The Board of Governors of the University, had vide another resolution, deferred the implementation of certain transfer orders of employees. However, the Chancellor of the University suspended the operation of the two resolutions by invoking his powers under Section 10(3) of the Act, 2015.
It is in this context that the petitioner, who is a member of the Syndicate of the KTU, filed the present petition challenging the order issued by the Chancellor which suspended the resolutions of the Syndicate, and the Board of Governors.
It was contended by the counsels for the petitioner that the impugned order of the Chancellor violates the mandate under Section 10(3) of the Act, 2015. It was pointed out that as per the provision, although the Chancellor is empowered to suspend or modify any resolution of any authority which in his opinion is not in conformity with Ordinance, Statutes or Regulations, or is against the interest of the University, the proviso mandates that before exercise of such power, the Chancellor ought to show cause as to why such an order of suspension or modification should not be made.
Although the counsels for the respondents conceded that no opportunity of show cause had been given prior to passing of the order of suspension, it was argued that the suspended resolutions had been grossly illegal and warranted immediate action, which necessitated the issuance of the said order. It was further argued that, even a post decisional show-cause notice would be sufficient, and that the petitioners would be issued a show-cause notice to which they could give their explanations, and that thereafter a final order could be passed by the Chancellor.
It is on perusing Section 10(3) of the Act, 2015, that the Court declared that since the statutory prescription of grant of opportunity to show-cause had not been provided, the impugned order of the Chancellor had to be interfered with.
Accordingly, the Court quashed the order, and clarified that the same shall be without prejudice to the right to proceed afresh in accordance with Section 10(3) of the Act, 2015.
The petitioner was represented by Advocates Lakshmi Ramadas, M.R. Sabu, Aparna Rajan, Sreedhar Ravindran, and Abhiram Kariyadath. Senior Advocate S. Gopakumaran Nair, the Standing Counsel for APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University Elvin Peter P.J., and Advocate S. Prasanth appeared on behalf of the respondents.
Case Title: I.B. Satheesh M.L.A. v. The Chancellor, APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University & Ors.
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Ker) 141