Bill removing Governor as Chancellor introduced in Kerala Assembly

  • | Wednesday | 7th December, 2022

Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 7 (PTI) The Left government in Kerala on Wednesday introduced the University Laws (Amendment) Bill in the Assembly to replace the Governor as the Chancellor of universities in the State and appoint eminent academicians in the top post, even as Opposition UDF contended that the move would downgrade varsities as mere "government departments".Law Minister P Rajeeve introduced the Bill in the House amidst the continuing tussle between Governor Arif Mohammed Khan and the Pinarayi Vijayan government over various issues, including the appointment of Vice-Chancellors of 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 varsities.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 assumes office.Presenting the Bill, the Minister said the Left government decided to come up with the Bill considering recommendations of various expert panels, including the Punchhi Commission and other higher education committees.He claimed that the entire House, both the ruling and Opposition benches, is unanimously supporting the move to remove the Governor as Chancellor.The differences between the government and the opposition are on the other aspects of the Bill like the Financial Memorandum and so on.When Leader of Opposition in the State Assembly V D Satheesan raised objections regarding the selection of new Chancellors in universities, Rajeeve asked whether the Chief Minister should be made as the Chancellor."As per the reports of various expert panels, the Chief Minister of a State should be the Chancellor of universities. In Congress-ruled states like Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh also, the Chief Ministers are adorning the top post," he said.The Law Minister said but the LDF government thought in a different way and wanted to bring excellent academicians as Chancellors.He asked whether anyone could suggest any suitable eminent person other than world renowned dancer Mallika Sarabhai to the Chancellorship of Kerala Kalamandalam Deemed-to-be University, from where the Governor was already removed as Chancellor recently.However, 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 as it feels to 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."We are not against the removal of the Governor as Chancellor. We are objecting to the alternative system you (government) are introducing. As it is such a significant Bill which will bring radical changes in the higher education sector, it should have been discussed with the Opposition before framing," he said.When the Minister sought to know about their suggestion, the LoP said he could not say anything at the moment as he has to discuss this within his party and the front.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.K K Shailaja and Saji Cheriyan (both CPI-M) and Mohammed Mohsin (CPI), Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan (Cong) and so on were among those who took part in the discussion.Speaker A N Shamseer later referred the Bill to the Subject Committee for further discussion and scrutiny.Among other things, the Bill said 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, it added. PTI LGK NVG NVG

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