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Setback to Kerala Govt As HC Directs Kannur Varsity to Re-examine Appointment of CM Secy’s Wife

By: News Desk

Edited By: Oindrila Mukherjee

News18.com

Last Updated: November 17, 2022, 23:01 IST

Kerala, India

Dr Priya Varghese is the wife of chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s private secretary and former MP KK Ragesh. (Image: ANI/File)

Dr Priya Varghese is the wife of chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s private secretary and former MP KK Ragesh. (Image: ANI/File)

The Kerala HC said Dr Priya Varghese does not have the necessary teaching experience, which is one of the main criteria for the post

The Kerala High Court on Thursday allowed a petition against the proposed appointment of the wife of chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s private secretary as a Malayalam associate professor in Kannur University. The court said Dr Priya Varghese does not have the necessary teaching experience, which is one of the main criteria for the post.

The high court directed the varsity to review the rank list, as per which Varghese was appointed in the department of Malayalam. It also asked the university if she was eligible to be included in the list. Justice Devan Ramachandran said the candidate did not have the relevant period of actual teaching experience as stipulated under the University Grants Commission (UGC) Regulations of 2018.

“Teaching experience can only be a real fact and not a fiction or an inference. It has to be actual and cannot be construed or inferred," the court said and observed that some of the various spells of teaching experience claimed by Dr Varghese “cannot find favour in law".

Dr Priya Varghese is the wife the chief minister’s private secretary and former MP KK Ragesh. Responding to the court’s order, she said, “I accept the court order. I will discuss with the lawyers."

The opposition BJP, meanwhile, welcomed the HC’s order with minister of state V Muraleedharan saying Varghese was “underqualified" to be a professor in the first place, and the court order vindicated Kerala governor Arif Mohammed Khan’s decision to freeze her appointment. He further said this exposed Vijayan’s bid to promote nepotism in educational institutions of the state.

The former state BJP president tweeted: “Welcome Hon’ble Kerala High Court’s order declaring - Priya Varghese ‘under- qualified’ to be associate professor. Order vindicated Hon’ble @KeralaGovernor’s decision to freeze her appointment Exposed @pinarayivijayan’s attempt to promote nepotism & sabotage Kerala Universities".

The order came on a plea filed by Joseph Skaria, who came second to Varghese in the university mark list. Varghese had been proposed to be appointed as an associate professor in the Malayalam department by the varsity, which triggered a massive political row as she had the lowest research score but the highest in the interview round and was declared first in the selection process.

Khan, in his capacity as chancellor of universities in the state, had stayed her appointment and alleged that Kannur University’s move to appoint her was “political".

Background: Kerala governor at loggerheads with LDF-led govt

Locked in a bitter tussle with the LDF-led government, the governor had said the state government should respect its limits that it was not its job to run universities, and that duty had been entrusted to the governor as ex-officio chancellor. He said he will not interfere in the business of the state government unless there was a total collapse of constitutional machinery and, “fortunately”, that was not the case in Kerala.

Khan has been at loggerheads with the ruling front over the appointment process for vice-chancellors at universities in the state. “All over India, you have the Constitution and the constitutional convention which are respected…”

Regarding allegations in certain quarters that the governor was implementing the RSS agenda, Khan said, “Give me one name, just one instance where I have appointed anybody belonging to organisations whom you find troublesome politically, RSS, BJP… I will resign.”

Recent court judgements seem to vindicate the governor’s stand, who recently said in an interview that this could not be called his “stand” as such but judgements that gave hope that the glory of universities could be restored.

“I won’t say my stand. There is nothing personal in it. In the light of the Honourable Supreme Court judgement, the judgement of the Kerala High Court… has upheld the law, upheld the Constitution. This has given hope that universities’ glory can be restored,” he told PTI.

Last month, the Supreme Court quashed the appointment of vice-chancellor of APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University in Thiruvananthapuram, terming it bad in law and contrary to UGC regulations.

On November 14, the Kerala HC quashed the appointment of the V-C of Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies (KUFOS), citing that it was made in violation of UGC norms.

These orders, which more or less vindicate Khan’s move seeking the resignation of 11 V-Cs in the state over the violation, are a blow to the Left government that has opposed him on the issue. Khan has also alleged that educational institutions in the state had become party fiefdoms. The LDF, in a show of strength, had mobilised its supporters in massive numbers and marched to the Raj Bhavan in the state capital.

(With PTI inputs)

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first published:November 17, 2022, 19:47 IST
last updated:November 17, 2022, 23:01 IST
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