In an unprecedented move, Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan directed the Vice-Chancellors of nine universities in Kerala to tender their resignations.

 

What is the issue?

  • Kerala Governor, who is also the Chancellor of varsities, issued the order after the Supreme Court annulled the appointment of M.S. Rajasree as Vice-Chancellor of the APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University (KTU).
  • The Governor has alleged violation of University Grants Commission (UGC) norms in the Vice-Chancellor appointment process.
  • The Raj Bhavan said the search committees had failed to submit a panel of three to five candidates to the Chancellor based on which the Governor could exercise his informed judgment.
  • Instead, the committees arbitrarily proposed a single name for the top academic posts, thereby hobbling the Chancellor’s right to use his discretion.

 

What powers do Governors enjoy as Chancellors?

  • The appointment of Vice-Chancellors in state government-run universities is among the responsibilities of Governors as Chancellors.
  • Chancellors in most states have the power to annul decisions of the decision-making bodies of universities such as the Executive Council, and to make appointments to these bodies.
  • They also enjoy the power to preside over the convocation of universities.
  • In some states, however, Governors have little or no say in appointing VCs despite holding the post of Chancellor. In Telangana and Gujarat, Governors have no option but to appoint VCs from among the names approved by the state governments.

 

How the states are responding to Governors’ powers?

  • The Mamata Banerjee government of West Bengal, like other Opposition-ruled states such as Tamil Nadu, has curtailed the authority enjoyed by Governors as Chancellors.
  • While no attempt has been made to officially designate the CM as Chancellor in any other state, Tamil Nadu in April 2022 passed two Bills that seek to transfer the power of the Governor to appoint VCs of 13 state universities to the state government, which is currently run by the DMK.