A plea has been moved in the Kerala High Court challenging the appointment of the Vice Chancellor of Central University of Kerala.
The Division Bench comprising Chief Justice S. Manikumar and Justice Shaji P. Chaly, admitted the plea and issued notice to the present Vice Chancellor of Central University, Kerala, Prof. H. Vemkateswarlu, who has been named as the 3rd respondent herein, while adding that the issuance of notice needn't be construed as one issued for a writ of quo warranto. The Court on Monday, further directed the respondents to file the respective counter affidavits within four weeks.
The instant PIL was filed in the High Court by an educationalist named Dr. Naveen Prakash Nautiyal, challenging the appointment of the Vice Chancellor of Central University, Kerala (herein after 'CU, Kerala').
In the plea moved through Advocates Jayasree K.P. and John Joseph, it has been averred that as per Section 11 of the Central Universities Act, 2009, and the second schedule to Section 27 of the Statutes of the University, the Vice Chancellor is to be appointed by the Visitor of the University in the manner prescribed in the Statutes.
In the events leading up to the filing of the PIL, it may be noted that as per a notification issued by the Joint Secretary (CU), Ministry of Human Resource Development, Department of Higher Education, dated 7th June 2019, a selection committee had been constituted to to send a panel for appointment to the office of Vice Chancellor of the CU, Kerala, and for which 223 candidates had applied. Subsequently, 16 candidates were shortlisted by the search-cum-selection committee and after further scrutiny, a panel of 5 persons were recommended by it for appointment to the office of Vice Chancellor subject to clearance.
A Summary Note was thereupon issued to the Visitor by the Ministry along with a 360 degree assessment report of the shortlisted candidates, dated 15th October 2019, stating that there was no suitable candidate in the panel submitted by the search-cum-selection committee for appointment to the said post. The Visitor accepted the recommendation of the Ministry, and thereafter, the latter directed a fresh panel of five eminent academicians for consideration. It is out of this fresh panel that was thereupon sent by the search-cum-selection committee upon the directions of the Ministry that the present Vice Chancellor, CU Kerala, Prof. H. Venkateshwarlu, was appointed as per Statute 2 of the Central Universities Act, 2009, for a period of five years.
It was averred by the counsels for the petitioner that the Ministry had no authority to say that there had been no suitable candidate in the initial panel sent by the search-cum-selection committee, and thereupon recommend to the Visitor of the University for rejection of the panel submitted by the committee, and thereafter to recommend a fresh panel.
It was submitted by the counsels that had the Visitor of the University not been satisfied with the panel recommended by the committee, the former shall only call for an extended fresh panel as per statute 2 of the Statutes of the University, and that he could not act upon the recommendations of the Ministry.
Additionally, it was contended by the counsels for the petitioner that the 5 names in the fresh panel were not chosen by the search-cum-selection committee, while the list was shortlisted, and that the same would thus amount to a violation of statute 2 of the Statutes of the University.
The instant writ thus prays for the issuance of quo warranto or other appropriate writ seeking the 3rd respondent to show under what authority he is holding the post of Vice Chancellor of CU, Kerala, and to declare that the said appointment is in violation of the provisions of UGC Regulations, Central Universities Act, 2009 and its Statutes.
The Additional Central Government Standing Counsel for the Ministry of Education, Department of Education (the erstwhile Ministry of Human Resource Development) took notice for the Ministry which has been named as the 1st respondent herein, while the Standing Counsel for the Central University, Kerala and the Search-cum-Selection Committee of CU, T. Ramprasad Unni, took notice for the two which have been named as the 2nd and 6th respondents herein respectively.
The case has been posted for hearing on 14th November 2022.
Case Title: Dr. Naveen Prakash Nautiyal v. Union of India & Ors