Won’t sign University Amendment Bill: Kerala Governor hardens his stand

Won’t sign University Amendment Bill: Kerala Governor hardens his stand

Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan on Thursday said that he will not give the nod to the University Laws (Amendment) Bill recently passed by the state Assembly as it seeks to “legalise the illegalities”. Asserting that he was not a “rubber stamp” to sign on dotted lines, he said he will not allow the autonomy of the universities to be diluted nor allow executive interference in appointments at the universities.

Khan indicated he was against the Lok Ayukta (Amendment) Bill, also passed by the Assembly recently, stating that the basic principle of jurisprudence does not allow anyone to be the judge of their own cause. While the University Laws (Amendment) Bill curtails the powers of the governor as the chancellor in the appointment of vice-chancellors in universities, the Lok Ayukta (Amendment) Bill limits the powers of the state’s anti-corruption watchdog and seeks to make the executive the appellate authority over its reports. Both bills will require the governor’s approval soon.

“The Assembly has every right to pass and adopt any measure. But I have a duty to perform, an obligation to see that whatever is recommended to me and asked to sign is exactly in accordance with the Constitution, with law, its spirit, and well-established conventions, not just in India, but all over the world,” Khan told reporters in Kottayam after attending a function at MG university.

Also read: University amendment bill portends another Governor-govt conflict in Kerala

He alleged the bills were intended to legalise all illegal activities taken place so far. “I have not seen the bill, but whatever I read from the newspaper, one thing I can make clear. I shall not allow the autonomy of the university to be diluted. I shall not allow executive interference in the university – which means, the government trying to take the power of university appointments into its own hands. This is not possible. It will result in an erosion of autonomy,” Khan said.

“Autonomy is sacrosanct. I cannot allow a mechanism to be adopted whereby it can be used to appoint underqualified and unqualified relatives of those in power, or relatives of personnel staff of those in in power. I will only take a constitutional decision,” Khan added. “I had said earlier I will give up my Chancellor position. But you want to do everything and me to sign it. That is not possible,” Khan said.

Despite stiff opposition by UDF members and their subsequent boycott, the Kerala Assembly passed the controversial Lok Ayukta (Amendment) and University Laws (Amendment) Bills on August 30 and September 1, respectively.

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