Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan has received advice from the Raj Bhavan legal advisor to refer the controversial ‘Chancellor bill’ to Rashtrapathi.
The state legislative assembly passed the bill on December 13, 2022. The Congress-led Opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) boycotted the voting. Hence Bill was passed unanimously. Once it turns into a law (when the Governor signs), Bill will remove the Governor as the Chancellor of the 14 universities.
Governor still needs to sign the bill. On the other hand, Governor had made it clear that he was not going to sign the bill since it concerned his powers. He was not willing to sign a bill which affected him— Raj Bhavan’s legal advisor Adv. S. Gopakumaran Nair is reported to have advised the Governor not to take their own decision in the case of a bill which affects him. Otherwise, ‘personal interest’ can be alleged later. A person who holds a Constitutional position should not decide on a bill affecting his authority. Moreover, Education comes under the Concurrent list of the Constitution; hence State Government cannot take a free decision.
The University Law (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill, 2022 seeks to amend eight Acts relating to different universities to remove the Governor as the ex-officio Chancellor of the universities and to empower the state government to appoint a Chancellor. According to the bill, “State Government can set an academician of high repute or a person of eminence in any of the fields of the science including Agriculture and Veterinary Science, Technology, Medicine, Social Science, Humanities, Literature, Art, Culture, Law of Public Administration as the Chancellor of the university.
The bill is said to be the consequence of the Governor’s tough stand against nepotism in university appointments and other undesirable trends. Naturally, the Left Democratic Front (LDF) Government-led by CPM supremo Pinarayi Vijayan resolved to get rid of Arif Mohammed Khan as the Chancellor and leave the powers to run the universities with their ‘own men’.