The CPI(M)-led state government in Kerala on Saturday,11th November 2022 sent an ordinance to the Raj Bhavan mainly to remove the Governor from the post of Chancellor of universities in the state, for approval. The state cabinet led by Pinarai Vijayan, the chief minister of Kerala met on Friday 10th November 2022 and passed the ordinance to remove the Governor from the post of Chancellor of all the universities in the state, and appoint eminent academicians in the place. Raj Bhavan sources confirmed that the ordinance to replace the Governor as Chancellor of universities, reached for the assent.
But the Governor may decline to promulgate the ordinance as the same if assented will squeeze his power. The tussle between the Governor in Kerala has reached the height, as the Governor had issued notices to over 9 Vice chancellors to resign from the position. The ongoing tussle between Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan, and the Pinarayi Vijayan-led state government took a dramatic turn on 23 October2022 with the former directing the vice chancellors of nine universities in Kerala to tender their resignation, citing a Supreme Court judgment pronounced on 21 October 2022. The state government expressed that the governor or the chancellor doesn`t have the right to remove vice-chancellors. There is no such option in the University Act.
According to the Apex court order, the selection process of the VC in the case of APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University (KTU) Thiruvananthapuram, was against the University Grants Commission norms and thus, void ab initio. The government defended that the process was not against the individual but against the selection process. The governor issued – show cause notices, the High Court’s observations and a scathing war of words. Many VCs have declined to submit the resignations instead they sought High court intervention. The Kerala High court passed an order that the VCs of nine state universities can continue in their positions, until the governor, issues a final order based on the VC’s responses to the show cause notices issued to them.
The state government felt that the Governor is acting on behalf of the central government. In order to scuttle his power the state has used weapon of the ordinance. But this weapon will not crack unless it is assented by the Governor himself. The Governor and the state government should work in coordination, otherwise unnecessary conflict.
The Edu news suggests that it is the responsibility of both Governor and state government to work within the ambit of the constitution. It is unfortunate that these days many Governors have raised barricade for the governance of the states.