University Laws Amendment Bill seeks to legalise illegalities: Kerala Governor

Kerala Governor Arif Khan said that if he was going to be the Chancellor, then he would ensure there is no government interference in the universities.

University Laws Amendment Bill seeks to legalise illegalities: Kerala Governor Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan (Image: Official Twitter)
Press Trust of India | Sep 15, 2022 - 3:58 p.m. IST
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KOTTAYAM: Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan on Thursday said he will not allow the University Laws Amendment Bill recently passed by the state Assembly, alleging it seeks to legalise illegalities and pave the way for appointment of "unqualified relatives" of the Chief Minister and his cabinet colleagues.

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Insisting that he cannot be used as a rubber stamp, Khan while speaking to the media also indicated he was against the Lok Ayukta Amendment Bill, also passed by the Assembly recently, saying no one can be a judge in his own cause.

"I cannot allow a mechanism to be adopted whereby it can be used to appoint unqualified and underqualified relatives of those in power, relatives of the personal staff of the Chief Minister and other ministers, on the rolls of the universities," Khan said about the University Laws Bill.

Recently, a row broke out over the attempt to appoint the wife of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's personal secretary in the Malayalam department in Kannur University though she was said to have scored the lowest research score in the interview but highest in the interview round and was declared first in the selection process.

Despite stiff opposition from UDF members and their subsequent boycott, the Kerala Assembly on August 30 and September 1 passed the controversial Lok Ayukta (Amendment) and University Laws Amendment Bills, respectively. He alleged that through the University Laws Amendment Bill, the government was trying to legalise all the illegalities.

"I had said earlier I will give up my Chancellor position. But you want to do everything and me to sign it. That is not possible. Through this bill they are trying to legalise all the illegalities. This I will not allow," Khan added.

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He further said that he had in the past said he was willing to give up the post of Chancellor of Universities. "But if I am the Chancellor, I am not going to be used as a rubber stamp. I make it very clear to everybody. I am not a rubber stamp. "I shall apply my mind, my own judgement, my vision and then I will decide in accordance with the Constitution, law and convention. But they (government) are breaking the conventions," Khan said.

Khan also said that if he was going to be the Chancellor, then he would ensure there is no government interference in the universities. This is a concept which is respected all over the world and not just in India, he said and added that universities need their autonomy.

"I shall not allow the autonomy of the universities to be diluted. I shall not allow executive interference in the universities. That means the government taking power of making appointments in its own hands is not possible. "That will result in erosion of autonomy. Autonomy of universities is a sacred concept," the Governor said.

He also questioned the practice of billboards of political parties and their youth wings being put up inside university campuses, asking "do they pay the university for the same?" "They consider that they are in power so its (university) is their own property. This cannot be allowed," he said.

He also said that there was a tendency nowadays of use of force or threatening tactics which he now believes was used against him in Kannur University. "Let me make it clear, they do not know me. I am not going to come under any pressure. The more pressure they try to apply, more threatening language anybody would use, the more firm will be my resolve to uphold the Constitution and the law," Khan said.

He also said that democracy runs smoothly only when you are careful and do not offend public sensitivities. Regarding the Lok Ayukta Bill, he said that the basic principle of jurisprudence does not allow anyone to be the judge of their own cause. The Lok Ayukta Bill seeks to make the executive the appellate authority over reports by the anti-corruption watchdog.

Khan said being a democratically elected government does not mean you can break the laws, it means you have to adhere to the laws and rules. Therefore, "if there is a case against you or if there are accusations against you, you cannot take the role of making decisions about it. That is not possible," he said.

He, however, also said that his views were based on Assembly proceedings that he has read and news reports on the same. The two controversial bills were introduced and passed in the assembly by the Left government amidst a standoff with the Governor after several ordinances, including those related to these two bills, lapsed for want of his signature approving their repromulgation.

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