Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan on Thursday accused Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan of pressuring him to reappoint Gopinath Ravindran as the vice chancellor (VC) of Kannur University in November 2021. Khan said that state Higher Education Minister R Bindu was not to be blamed as CM Vijayan used her to seek the reappointment of Ravindran.
“It is wrong to blame the Education Minister (who) was used by the Chief Minister. It was not the minister who came to my office but an individual who claimed to be the Chief Minister’s legal advisor,” Khan said, according to NDTV.
“One OSD and a man who claimed to be the legal advisor to the CM… They brought a letter from the Education Minister as chancellor proposing that she should be appointed backed by the opinion of the Advocate General duly signed. I said that what you are asking me to do is illegal… I wrote a letter to the CM that what he had made me do was illegal,” he said. “Therefore, I requested him to make some alternate arrangements and that I don’t want to continue as chancellor,” the governor added.
“The higher education minister used to write to me but all the pressure came from the office of the CM,” Khan said.
The governor’s statement came hours after the Supreme Court quashed Ravindran’s re-appointment as the Vice-Chancellor of Kannur University, saying there was “unwarranted intervention” in the matter by the state government.
Noting that it was not a case of mere irregularity, a Bench of CJI DY Chandrachud, Justice JB Pardiwala, and Justice Manoj Misra set aside the Kerala High Court’s February 23, 2022 judgment that upheld the November 23, 2022 notification reappointing Ravindran as Kannur University VC.
The court also criticized the governor stating that the “chancellor abdicated or surrendered the statutory power of reappointment, rendering the entire decision-making process bad.”
“We have concluded that although the notification reappointing the respondent No. 4 (Ravindran) to the post of Vice-Chancellor was issued by the Chancellor, yet the decision stood vitiated by the influence of extraneous considerations or to put it in other words by the unwarranted intervention of the state government,” the Bench said.
“The Chancellor was required to discharge his statutory duties in accordance with law and guided by… his own judgment and not at the behest of anybody else,” the Bench stressed.
Meanwhile, higher education minister R Bindu said that she accepts the SC verdict in the matter. “The state government had sent a proposal in this regard based on the legal opinion of the AG. The responsibility of making the appointment rests with the governor. He has to use his wisdom and discretion to make a decision. It will be better to make an informed statement after getting the full copy of the verdict,” she told reporters.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and Union minister V Muraleedharan said the SC verdict proves the nepotism and corruption of the CM. “The CPM must think whether it wants to carry forward a corrupt CM. The people of Kerala certainly don’t want one,” he said.
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