Apparently opening a new front in its tussle with the Raj Bhawan, the cabinet on Tuesday approved a bill seeking to curtail the governor’s role in the appointment of vice-chancellors in state universities. The bill proposes reconstitution of the search-cum-selection committee to choose the VC in such a manner that the government gets the upper hand in the selection process, reducing the governor’s role to merely giving assent to the decision.
The proposed bill is likely to be tabled in the coming assembly session. Earlier, a government-appointed commission, chaired by former VC of National University of Advanced Legal Studies N K Jayakumar, had made recommendations to ensure that the governor, as chancellor, does not play an overarching role in state universities. TNIE had reported the commission’s recommendations on August 10.
Sources said the bill proposes to amend university rules to increase the number of members in the search-cum-selection committee from three to five. Currently, the committee has a representative each of the chancellor, the UGC and the varsity. It submits a panel of names jointly or separately to the chancellor who will then make the final selection.
As per the proposed bill, the committee will also have a representative of the government and the vice chairperson of the Kerala State Higher Education Council. With three of the five members in the panel likely to adopt a pro-government stance, the UGC nominee and the nominee of the chancellor would be reduced to mere spectators.
“The right of the search committee members to suggest separate panel of names to the chancellor will be done away with,” said a source. However, it remains to be seen if the governor would give his assent to a legislation that curtails his powers in university affairs.
Governor Arif Mohammed Khan refused to join issue when asked about the government move. “As long as the powers are with me, I will not allow any violation of the law,” Khan told reporters. He reminded that a bill becomes a law only after the governor signs it.
Guv nominated 2 in 3-member panel
Earlier, the governor had nominated two members of the three-member search committee to select a new vice-chancellor for the University of Kerala. The move came amid reports that the government was planning to curtail his role in the appointment of VCs. After declaring his nominee and the UGC’s representative, the governor had said that the nominee of the Senate of the University of Kerala shall be included as and when the same is received from the University.
CPI MINS OPPOSE LOKAYUKTA AMENDMENT
Ministers from CPI reiterated the party’s opposition to the Lokayukta Act amendment at the cabinet meet. However, the bill to replace the ordinance was passed by the cabinet.