Bill introduced in Kerala Assembly to replace governor as chancellor of universities

The Kerala government tabled the University Laws (Amendment) Bill in the Assembly to replace the Governor with eminent academicians in the top post

Bill introduced in Kerala Assembly to replace governor as chancellor of universities Kerala governor (Source: Official Twitter Account)
Press Trust of India | Dec 7, 2022 - 3:54 p.m. IST
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THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Left government in Kerala on Wednesday tabled the contentious University Laws (Amendment) Bill in the Assembly to replace the Governor as Chancellor of universities in the state and appoint eminent academicians in the top post. Law Minister P Rajeeve introduced the bill in the House amidst continuing tussle between Governor Arif Mohammed Khan and the Pinarayi Vijayan government over various issues including in the appointment of vice chancellors in universities.

Though the Congress-led UDF made it clear that they were not against the power of a democratic government to remove the Governor as Chancellor, but argued that the alternative system, being introduced through the Bill, would destroy the autonomous status of the universities.

According to the Bill, the government shall appoint an academician of high repute or a person of eminence in any of the fields of science including agriculture and veterinary science, technology, medicine, social science, humanities, literature, art, culture, law or public administration as the Chancellor of the University. It also said the Chancellor shall hold office for a term of five years from the date on which he enters upon his office.

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However, the opposition Congress-UDF members raised a handful of objections against it saying it would face legal issues if passed in the present form. Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly V D Satheesan charged that the Bill was prepared in haste without much contemplation and has several ambiguities. Noting that the Bill comprised aspects violating UGC guidelines, he said a new law won't stand if it is introduced under the State Act against that of the directives of the apex higher education body. He also said the Bill could not be presented in the House as the Financial Memorandum was incomplete.

"There is no mention about the age limit and the minimum educational qualification of the Chancellor in the Bill. That means, the government can appoint anyone according to their mind in the top post. It will destroy the autonomous stature of the universities and turn them into mere government departments," Satheesan alleged. The opposition wanted the government to withdraw the present Bill and come out with a fresh one after rectifying the mistakes and making enough consultation including with the opposition.

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Senior Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala, P C Vishnunath, T Siddique, Mathew Kuzhalnadan were among those opposition legislators who raised objections against the presentation of the Bill. However, the Law Minister rejected the charges and said the objections raised by the Congress-UDF were mere "political" points. The Bill further said that the person appointed as the Chancellor shall be eligible for reappointment for one more term. The position of the Chancellor shall be an honorary post, it said adding that the office of the Chancellor shall be at the headquarters of the University. The University shall provide such officers and employees as may be necessary for the smooth functioning of his office.

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