Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan on Sunday defended his action against Vice Chancellors (VCs) of 11 universities in the state, saying that he was only performing his constitutional duty to defend the law which was laid down by the Supreme Court.
Khan said there was no “other intention” or “controversy” behind the steps taken by him as he was only implementing the law laid down by the apex court and added that he has “no time to spend on petty fights”.
The top court on October 21 had quashed the appointment of the VC of APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University saying that as per the University Grants Commission (UGC), the search committee constituted by the state should have recommended a panel of not less than three suitable people among eminent people in the field of engineering science to the chancellor but, instead it sent only one name.
Khan said that besides this, the apex court also ruled that according to UGC norms on VC appointments, the search or selection committee should not have a non-academic member.
“The Supreme Court was not hearing a matter on qualifications of a VC. They have not commented on that. They have said that the process which has been followed for appointing VCs was repugnant to the regulations of the UGC.
“The judgement does not deal with just one VC. They (SC) have laid down the law. I consider it my duty to defend and implement it if it is in my jurisdiction. Therefore, for me there is no controversy. I had no other intention. I am trying to do my duty as I am obliged to do. I do not have time to spend on petty fights,” he said.
Khan was speaking at an event organised by the World Malayali Federation in New Delhi.
He further said that where he does not have the power to intervene when he sees something which in his view is against the interests of the people of Kerala, he will bring the same to the attention of the public who can then decide what to do.
Citing an example, he said ministers in Kerala have the power to appoint 25 people in their personal staff who become entitled to lifelong pension on completing two years of service.
After every two years, a new set of 25 people are appointed and in this manner during a four year tenure of a minister 50 party workers become entitled to lifelong pension which is paid from money that should be used for the people of the state.
“I do not have the legal power to stop it. Only thing I can do is let the people of Kerala know how the money is being spent and let the people of Kerala decide. This is the least I can do,” he said.
At the same time, he also said he does not believe that every opinion of his is perfect and final.
“No. I am open to correction,” he said.
In his speech at the event, he also claimed that no one was willing to start an educational institution in Kerala and that it was the only state where people “were searching for jobs all over the country and the world.” He further claimed Keralites outside the state are successfully running businesses and industries but, are not setting up the same in Kerala.
Khan also praised Kerala for its “unadulterated spiritual mindset”, saying that “people do not suspect or have misgivings about anybody based on their birth, skin colour or language they speak”.
“They have this attitude of seeing the divine in everybody. Keralites have a sense of human dignity,” he said and added “you need to safeguard what you have achieved”.