8 Nov 2022 7:33 AM GMT
The Kerala High Court on Tuesday refused to stay Governor Arif Mohammed Khan's order appointing Ciza Thomas, the senior joint director of the directorate of technical education, as Vice Chancellor in-charge of the APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University (KTU).Justice Devan Ramachandran issued notice to Khan, who is chancellor of the university, and Thomas on the petition moved by the...
The Kerala High Court on Tuesday refused to stay Governor Arif Mohammed Khan's order appointing Ciza Thomas, the senior joint director of the directorate of technical education, as Vice Chancellor in-charge of the APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University (KTU).
Justice Devan Ramachandran issued notice to Khan, who is chancellor of the university, and Thomas on the petition moved by the state government. The UGC was also suo motu impleaded as a respondent in the matter.
In the plea filed through Senior Government Pleader V. Manu, it has been argued by the State that Thomas's appointment by the Chancellor is not in conformity with the provisions of the APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University Act, 2015.
Dr. Rajasree M.S's appointment as the varsity's VC was recently quashed, and held to be void ab initio by the apex court.
The State has argued that only the Vice Chancellor of any other University or the Pro-Vice Chancellor of the university, or the secretary to the government higher education department, as recommended by the government, could be appointed as the VC to hold office till a regular VC is selected.
As an interim measure, KTU's Registrar had earlier recommended the name of Dr. Saji Gopinath, Vice Chancellor, Digital University of Kerala to the Chancellor in accordance with Section 13(7) of the Act.
However the Secretary to the Governor on October 24 intimated to Higher Education Department's Principal Secretary that the suggestion of Dr. Gopinath to the post was not acceptable to the Chancellor.
The State has said that the reasons stated for doing so by the Governor were erroneous. According to the petition, to avoid a stalemate in the university, the government had then recommended the name of Principal Secretary to the Government's Higher Education Department for the post of Vice Chancellor of the University.
However, the plea adds, the Deputy Secretary of the Kerala Raj Bhavan on October 26 requested the Director of Technical Education to furnish the complete list of Professors attached to the College of Engineering, Thiruvananthapuram, and Government College of Engineering, Barton Hill, Thiruvananthapuram, with more than 10 years of teaching experience as per UGC Regulations.
The Chancellor on November 3 ordered Thomas to take over as officiating VC of the university and exercise the powers and functions attached with the post, pending the appointment of a regular Vice Chancellor, and until further orders.
The State has argued that as per Section 13(7), such appointment could only be made for a period not exceeding six months. Thomas' appointment is bad in law, it has contended.
Stating that Thomas was neither the VC of any other university nor the pro Vice Chancellor, the State has said, "Even if for argument's sake, it is admitted that the UGC Regulations 2018 is to override the Act even in matters of appointment of Vice Chancellor - in charge, it is most humbly submitted that there is no provision in the UGC Regulations 2018 contrary to Section 13(7) of the Act".
The State has further said that if the Chancellor, for any reason, found the Principal Secretary to Government, Higher Education Department not acceptable for the post, the present Pro-VC of the University, Dr. S. Ayoob, who had been appointed on 28.06.2019, and who was continuing to hold office could have been ordered to exercise the powers and duties of the VC.
It has also been argued the provisions of the Act do not bestow any unfettered powers upon the Chancellor to appoint any person of his choice to exercise the powers and functions of the VC of the University, but that he could act only as per the recommendation of the Government in terms of Section 13(7) of the Act.
The matter has been posted for further consideration on Friday.
Case Title: State of Kerala v. The Chancellor, APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University & Ors.