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Kerala Kaumudi Online
Friday, 23 February 2024 7.10 PM IST

Government pressure and Governor's yielding in

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THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The pressure tactics used by the government to re-appoint Dr Gopinath Ravindran as Kannur University VC and the Governor's yielding to it form the basis of the judgement issued by the Supreme Court. The fact that the Supreme Court said that the Chancellor, who was responsible for protecting the autonomy of the universities, gave in to external pressures was a blow to the governor.

The Supreme Court also considered the press release issued earlier by the Governor stating that the re-appointment was initiated by the Chief Minister and Minister R Bindu. The government's contention was that the recommendation for re-appointment was given as per the demand of the Governor. To counter this, the Governor had released the details of the correspondence and communication made on November 21, 22 and 23, 2021. The Governor had given an affidavit in the court that the notification and subsequent steps to find the VC were put to an end following the intervention of the Chief Minister, Minister R Bindu, the Chief Minister's Officer on Special Duty and the Legal Adviser and the legal advice of the Advocate General in support of this.

External interventions
1. Arrival of legal advisor

The term of Kannur University VC was supposed to end on November 23, 2021. On October 27, the Governor issued a notification announcing the formation of a selection committee to find the new VC. On November 1, Higher Education Department Additional Chief Secretary invited applications for the appointment of VC. On November 21, Chief Minister's legal advisor KK Ravindranath reached the Raj Bhavan and conveyed the government's desire for re-appointment.

2. Chief Minister's OSD
Chief Minister's Officer on Special Duty R Mohanan reached the Raj Bhavan at 12.10 pm on November 22. He reiterated the government's demand for re-appointment and produced the legal advice bearing the signature and seal of the Advocate General. This was the legal advice given to the Additional Chief Secretary, Higher Education.

3. Minister Bindu's letter
On November 22, Minister R Bindu's letter reached the Raj Bhavan. The letter mentioned the qualifications of Gopinath Ravindran and asked for his re-appointment. The minister also demanded that the notification regarding the formation of the search committee should be cancelled

4. Legal advice from AG
As per the legal advice provided by AG, there was no legal bar to re-appointment and although the age limit for VC is 60 years in the University Act, no such thing is mentioned in the UGC norms. The AG asked that the search committee notification should be withdrawn and that Minister Bindu, the pro-chancellor, should be allowed to recommend for reappointment.

5. Withdrawal of notification
The Governor decided to withdraw the search committee notification and allow the government to make recommendations for reappointment. The Governor's secretary sent a letter to the Chief Secretary, Higher Education. Following this, the Raj Bhavan received a reply from the minister stating that the notification to apply for the appointment of VC had been withdrawn

6. Bindu's second letter
Raj Bhavan received a second letter from Minister R Bindu asking for the re-appointment of Gopinath Ravindran. Raj Bhavan issued a notification for re-appointment on the very next day.

7. Chief Minister's recommendation
The Chief Minister came to the Raj Bhavan and recommended that the University was in his own district and Gopinath Ravindran was from his native place. The Governor said that he would give weightage to Gopinath Ravindran in the appointment of VC.

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