Education is the foundation of an intellectual mind & higher education helps in creating a reasonable, unbiased & nationalist mindset. Any indoctrination in the whole education process will lead to the destruction of a peaceful & democratic society. That’s why constitutionally appointed Governors have been provided with the power to appoint Vice-Chancellors (V-Cs) in state universities to ensure that no political parties in power would try to rig educational institutions for their benefit.
Taking away the statutory rights of Governor
Recently, the Tamil Nadu assembly passed two Bills to curtail the Governor’s powers to appoint V-Cs of various universities in the state. Amending the Tamil Nadu Universities Laws (Amendment) Act, 2022 & the Chennai University (Amendment) Act, 2022, the state government has transferred the appointing power of V-Cs of 13 universities, from ‘chancellor’ to ‘government’.
The earlier anti-NEET bill passed by the state legislative assembly was returned by the Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi. Taking on the Governor, Tamil Nadu CM had taken strong objection to the stand & termed the constitutionally designated role of a Governor as a ‘postman’ job.
DMK leader demeaning the Governor’s rights & duties to a job of ‘postman’ is not only derogatory to the Constitution of India but also violates the statutory regulations provided by the Universities Grants Commission (UGC).
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Violation of UGC’s Regulations
UGC in June 2013 had released a Gazette Notification in order to regulate the competency, integrity, morals & institutional commitment of Vice-Chancellors. The statutory body to regulate universities in India provides for a standard operating procedure (SOP) for the selection process of VCs. It states, ‘’The selection of VC should be through proper identification of a panel of 3-5 names by a Search Committee through a public notification or nomination or a talent search process or in combination’. Further, providing a clear mandate to appoint the VC by Governors, it adds “The Chancellor shall appoint the Vice-Chancellor out of the Panel of names recommended by the Search Committee.”
The state government amendment in the act is an open violation of the UGC’s regulations. A standard operating procedure has been set up by the body to maintain the independence & integrity of the very important post of the Vice-Chancellor. Any meddling in the process will compromise the quality of education & will lead to the decay of the legitimacy of educational institutions in society.
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Dangerous trends ahead
Recently, it has become a common trend among opposition ruling states to directly challenge the constitutional framework under which Governors fulfill their duties. In the misdirected narrative around the federal polity & independence of state’s functioning, the assigned roles of constitutionally appointed authorities are being usurped by state governments.
Earlier, Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan had taken a strong objection to the CPI(M)-led government interfering in the appointments of VCs. Anguished over the political interference in the appointment, he had suggested that Pinarayi Vijayan become the Chancellor of universities. The displeasure expressed by the Governor was due to the state’s amendment to the University Act, which took away the power of the Chancellor to appoint the University Appellate Tribunal.
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In a similar manner, Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal is also breaking the constitutional, statutory & recommendatory guidelines of UGC. Violating the SOPs, 25 VCs Universities were illegally appointed without the Chancellor’s approval.
Education Environ-“Law of ruler, not rule of law” @MamataOfficial
VCs of 24 (now 25) Universities appointed illegally without Chancellor approval.
Calcutta Univ VC Sonali Chakravarty gets second full four year term without any selection. No CM response to Aug 17 communication. pic.twitter.com/E6DZLgVhFz
— Governor West Bengal Jagdeep Dhankhar (@jdhankhar1) January 15, 2022
Governor is a constitutional post created along the lines of Indian federalism. Any change in rights, duties, or obligations of the Governor will be an attack on the values of the Constitution. Setting a bad precedent, opposition-ruled states are in a clear mood to break every constitutional obligation. Further, a manufactured effort to create a constitutional crisis is being taken up to undermine the central government.
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