The Kerala Assembly on Thursday passed the contentious University Laws (Amendment) Bill 2022, which would result in curtailing the powers of the Governor as Chancellor of state universities. The opposition Congress-UDF boycotted the House proceedings before voting alleging that the government was trying to appoint ”puppets” of the ruling party in key posts in varsities.
Announcing their boycott, Leader of Opposition in the Assembly V D Satheesan said the Bill was an ”insult” to the higher education sector of the state. The Bill would affect the autonomy of the universities and would set a wrong precedent in the higher education sector, he charged before walking out of the hall.
However, Higher Education Minister R Bindu claimed that the opposition and media’s propaganda that the Bill would strip the powers of the Governor was wrong. The Bill was passed at a time when the ruling CPI(M) was facing nepotism charges from opposition parties in connection with the faculty appointment in many universities in the state.
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The new Bill would restrict the authority of the Governor, who holds the position of Chancellor, in appointing Vice Chancellors (VCs) of universities. Governor Arif Mohammed Khan and the CPI(M)-led LDF government have been at loggerheads for some time on various issues including on the appointment of the Vice-Chancellor of Kannur University.
Khan, in his capacity as Chancellor, had also stayed the appointment of Malayalam associate professor in the same university, for the interview in which Priya Varghese, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s private secretary K K Ragesh’s wife, was given first rank.
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