All procedures followed in Priya Varghese' selection as faculty member: Kannur VC

Kannur University vice-chancellor claimed all procedure was followed and legal opinion was sought at the time of in Varghese' selection.

All procedures followed in Priya Varghese' selection as faculty member: Kannur VC Kerala High Court.
Press Trust of India | Nov 18, 2022 - 2:28 p.m. IST
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KANNUR: A day after the Kerala High Court allowed a petition against the proposed appointment of a Malayalam associate professor that had triggered a political row, the Kannur University on Friday claimed that all procedures mandated by the UGC had been followed in the selection and indicated that the varsity would not go for appeal.

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Kannur University Vice-Chancellor Gopinath Ravindran said a legal opinion was sought before the selection of Priya Varghese, wife of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's private secretary K K Ragesh, to the faculty post. Though a clarification was sought from the UGC regarding her qualification, no reply was received till date and if the apex academic body had given a reply to his letter, the issue would not have become worse, he told reporters here.

"The letter was sent to the UGC for clarification in the point whether the period spent by the candidate for the PhD research on deputation granted by the state government under the Faculty Development Programme (FDP) be considered as teaching research experience for direct recruitment for the post of Associate Professor," Ravindran said.

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In the case of Varghese' proposed appointment, the high court had said she did not have the relevant period of actual teaching experience as stipulated under the University Grants Commission (UGC) Regulations of 2018. The court had said that her periods of service as NSS Coordinator or Director of Student Services (DSS) in the Kannur university and time spent engaged in research would go towards her promotion and growth as a good teacher, "but that by itself would not be sufficient in the absence of requisite experience in teaching".

He said further action on the High Court verdict would be decided after receiving the copy of the detailed judgement. When asked whether the varsity would go for appeal against the present verdict, he replied in negative saying that a lot of money would have to be spent but further action, if any, would be decided upon receiving a copy of the judgement. Ravindran said the verdict would have a far-reaching impact in the academic field and would be a setback to the faculty who go for research under FDP.

Meanwhile, the officials indicated that the rank list would be reviewed as directed by the court and those coming in the first three positions would be considered for the post. In yet another setback for the Left government in its tussle with Governor Arif Mohammed Khan on functioning of universities, the High Court had on Thursday allowed the petition against the proposed appointment of the wife of Chief Minister Vijayan's private secretary as a Malayalam associate professor in Kannur University.

The court decision comes as a blow to the ruling LDF as it was critical of Khan's decision as Chancellor to put on hold the proposed appointment of Varghese on the ground that it was "political". Varghese' proposed appointment had triggered a huge political row as she had the lowest research score but the highest in the interview round and was declared first in the selection process.

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