Published: 18th August 2022
Kannur University Assistant Professor row: VC to file petition in Kerala HC against Governor's order
The VC's decision to approach the High Court comes after Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan stalled the appointment of an Assistant Professor
Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan, who is also the Chancellor of Kannur University, has stalled the appointment of an Associate Professor in the Department of Malayalam through an order late at night on August 17, Wednesday. On August 18, Kannur University Vice-Chancellor Gopinath Raveendran will approach the Kerala High Court in this regard, IANS reports.
The VC will file a petition against the Governor's order on Saturday, August 20. The Governor's order stalls the appointment of Priya Varghese, the Assistant Professor in question, "with immediate effect".
"The Hon'ble Chancellor has invoked the provisions of Section 7(3) of the Kannur University Act, 1996, in this decision and show cause notices to all stakeholders are being issued separately and the decision has been conveyed to the University," the petition reads. The order came after the appointment was already cleared by the university and this has snowballed into a political issue.
But why has it gone political?
The Assistant Professor is Priya Varghese, the wife of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's private secretary KK Ragesh, a former Rajya Sabha member. Hours after the order was issued, CPI-M state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan wrote in the party's organ, Deshabhimani, that the Governor has "become a tool of the Modi government and the BJP, and is using it to destabilise the state government", as reported by IANS.
State Law Minister P Rajeev countered that this was an issue between the Governor and the university, in which the varsity has to decide on what needs to be done. And the state government is not a party to this.
Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition VD Satheesan welcomed the Governor's decision and also asked Khan to see that a proper probe is launched into all similar appointments made by the various universities in the state during the past six years after the Vijayan government assumed office in 2016.
Here's how the situation unfolded
It was in November 2021 that the interviews for the Assistant Professor post were conducted. Priya Varghese was ranked first in the interview process and given the appointment in June 2022. It was at the time that the Youth Congress was protesting against VC Raveendran, who, they claimed, was doing his best to get an extension of service. The VC got the extension soon after the interviews ended.
The Save University Campaign Committee and a few others had been protesting ever since Varghese's name appeared among the six candidates shortlisted for the interview. They claimed that she did not have a PhD degree or eight years of teaching experience, which are required for being appointed as an Assistant Professor.
They also said that the three years of leave Varghese had taken to complete her PhD could not be counted as teaching experience, nor could her experience of two years as a student director on deputation at the Kannur University.
However, Varghese claimed that she has all the required qualifications. An RTI inquiry into the appointment revealed that she was appointed based on her personal interview scores. This RTI information came in last week.
It revealed that Priya Varghese got the maximum marks (32 out of 50) in the personal interview, while the second-ranked candidate scored 30. It also informed that her research score was 156, while the second-ranked candidate secured 651.
It may be mentioned here that even though her appointment was cleared, she did not join last week, and her deputation was extended for a year, at a language-related state-run institution where she works currently, reports IANS.