Kerala governor’s resignation ‘order’ fails, says HC; VCs can continue for now | Kochi News

KOCHI: The Kerala high court on Monday said the chancellor’s communication asking the vice chancellors (VCs) of nine universities in Kerala to resign, prima facie, fails. The court said the VCs can continue unless the chancellor issues orders for their removal, after completing the enquiries now initiated. Governor Arif Mohammed Khan is the chancellor of the universities in Kerala.

Justice Devan Ramachandran conducted a special sitting on Monday, even though the court was closed for Diwali, to hear the petitions urgently moved by the VCs challenging the communication issued by the chancellor on Sunday, asking them to resign within 24 hours.
The judge said he has great reservations for the communication issued by the chancellor as it asks the VCs to resign and that too within the shortest period possible but also declares that they cease to be VCs with effect from October 21st. No one can force another to tender resignation, the court said.
Senior advocate K Jaju Babu, who represented the chancellor, submitted that through the communication, the chancellor was giving a chance to the VCs to save themselves from the heat of being removed from office, and as they have not done so, show causes have been issued to them now. The court held that the chancellor’s communication will have to fail.
The court said it completely fails to fathom the purport of the statement in the chancellor’s communication, which said the VCs cease to be in office after the 21st but also asks them to tender resignations. As per the Supreme Court’s judgment (in APJAKTU VC MS Rajashree’s case), if all the vitiating factors are applicable in the case of appointments of the VCs, their appointment does not become illegal or untenable from the 21st but void ab initio (invalid from the beginning), the court pointed out. This is the affirmative declaration of the Supreme Court, the court said.

In order to know whether the appointments of the VCs are illegal, untenable, or void ab initio, as is being suspected by the chancellor, proper enquiry has to be done, especially since some of the VCs have contended that the apex court’s judgment is not applicable in their cases while some others have argued that the chancellor lacks the jurisdiction or competence to act, the court said.
As the chancellor’s counsel has submitted that show cause notices have been issued to the VCs, the chancellor’s communication has lost relevance, the court added. It is unmistakably so because when the chancellor gives them an opportunity to show cause, they are still in service and eligible to continue as VCs until they are removed as per law, if it becomes warranted in the future, the court said in the order.
The court also made it clear that it has not considered the contentions of the VCs or the chancellor, including those regarding the competence of the latter to act or the contours of his jurisdiction. The court has also not considered the precedents cited by the parties, the court added.
“Needless to say, until such time as the chancellor issues a final order against any of the petitioners, if it is so necessary, they will be eligible to continue in their present positions, however, in full compliance with the applicable rules and regulations,” the court said.

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