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Kerala varsity VC defied direction to hold meeting for conferring D.Litt on President on someone's instruction: Guv

Kerala varsity VC defied direction to hold meeting for conferring D.Litt on President on someone's instruction: Guv

Published:10 January 2022

Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan on Monday said the Vice Chancellor of Kerala University "defied" his direction to hold a meeting to confer D.Litt on Indian President on "so-and-so's instruction" and warned that if he continues as Chancellor, he will take "drastic actions" against such defiance.

Thiruvananthapuram | Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan on Monday said the Vice Chancellor of Kerala University "defied" his direction to hold a meeting to confer D.Litt on Indian President on "so-and-so's instruction" and warned that if he continues as Chancellor, he will take "drastic actions" against such defiance.
The Governor said that if he continues as Chancellor of Universities, then being the disciplinary authority, his next step "would be full of drastic actions that will cause a lot of upsets" and that is why he is giving time to the state government to bring a law to take over the functions of Chancellor.
Attacking the VC of Kerala University, over his recent letter on the D.Litt controversy, the Governor told reporters here that the former had on December 5 last year called Raj Bhavan and said the syndicate meeting cannot be called as per "so-and-so's instruction".
Giving details of the chain of events which led to the D.Litt controversy, Khan said that during a meeting with the VC regarding holding of convocation in the Kerala University, as the same had not been held for over 10 years, he had suggested bringing someone from Delhi (the President) for the event.
"Then I said, when he (President) comes here, if the university authorities decide as per the law, we can also consider conferring the honorary degree (D.Litt) on him.
"I also clarified that Rashtrapati Bhavan has a policy of not accepting degrees from our universities, but if the university authorities decide (to confer the degree), I shall go to the President and say that this may be considered as a special case as Kerala University is one of the oldest universities of the country," Khan said.
He also said that he had directed the VC to hold a meeting of the varsity syndicate to consider the proposal to confer D.Litt on the President.
However, a few days later, on December 5, 2021, the VC called Raj Bhavan here and said that "so-and-so has instructed" not to hold a meeting with regard to conferring the degree on the President, Khan said but refused to divulge on whose instructions the VC had taken the decision.
He said the VC defied the directions of the Chancellor who was not only the appointing authority, but also the disciplinary authority.
The VC's actions also indicated that there was (political) interference and therefore, he thought that instead of confronting the government, it was better that someone else is appointed as Chancellor, Khan said.
Khan also said that the language used by the VC over the phone and in the letter, subsequently, was so "obnoxious", that as Governor of the state he was "embarrassed" to show his face outside Kerala.
"It is not that the poor thing (VC) does not know how to write five lines, he does not even know how to talk or convey a message. I was shocked and surprised by what he had said (over the phone). It left me stunned how anyone can use this language.
"I could not believe an educated person could say this kind of sentence. What he said was totally obnoxious. We are becoming a laughing stock," he added.
A handwritten letter purportedly by Kerala University Vice-Chancellor V P Mahadevan Pillai came out in public domain on Saturday allegedly confirming that Governor Arif Mohammed Khan had recommended to confer an honorary DLitt degree on President Ram Nath Kovind.
The letter also revealed that the VC, instead of convening a Syndicate meeting to decide on the matter, had merely "discussed" it with some Syndicate members and informed the Governor that the University Syndicate had turned down the proposal.
"... After returning, I have discussed with several members of Syndicate about the matter of conferring D.Litt Degree to his excellency the President of India. The members of the Syndicate turn (sic) it down," the handwritten letter dated December 7, 2021, read.
On the Kannur University's VC's reappointment, Khan said it was irregular and he had resisted two letters of the Higher Education Minister on the same.
However, the CM's legal advisor -- the Advocate General -- kept insisting that it was legally correct and if he had decided not to follow the legal opinion, there would have been another confrontation with the government.
With regard to the recent comments by Leader of Opposition (LoP) in the state assembly V D Satheesan that the Governor was not exempt from or above criticism, Khan said that he never said he was above criticism.
"Showing respect for a Constitutional position and criticising some actions are two different things. I only said Constitutional positions should be respected," he said.
He further said that while the state government has not said a word against him and the CM has written him three letters saying there will not be any sort of interference, it was the "loyal opposition" which was attacking him.
Later in the day, Satheesan said that the Governor, the Kerala University and the state government, all three, insulted the President of the country.
He said it was unfortunate that the matters related to the D.Litt controversy were kept secret for so long from the people and their elected representatives.
Referring to the Governor terming the UDF opposition as "loyal opposition", the LoP said that while the term was used by Khan to ridicule the opposition, it is acceptable to them as under the British parliamentary system it refers to those who are opposed to the government but loyal to the Constitution and the country.
Satheesan further said that the opposition had much earlier alleged that the ruling party was interfering in the running of the varsities and now even the Governor agrees with that.
The Governor, therefore, as the Chancellor of universities should take stern action against the alleged illegal actions of the government, he said.
Khan had earlier expressed his wish to step down as the Chancellor of universities in the state from December 8 last year, alleging political interference in their functioning.
The Governor, who is at loggerheads with the state government over alleged political interference in the functioning of the universities, had said on December 30 that he was even ready to transfer the powers of chancellor to the Higher Education minister, who is also the pro-chancellor of the varsities.


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