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Cabinet approves Bill to remove Governor as Chancellor of State universities

  • Published
    1st Dec, 2022
Context

The Cabinet has approved the draft Bill removing Governor as Chancellor of the State universities, which has drawn criticism regarding Centre’s autonomy to appoint Chancellor of their choice.

Key provisions of the Bill:

  • The Bill proposes that the Governor will no longer be the eminent academicians as Chancellors of various universities.
  • Criteria for Chancellor:
    • The Bill has proposed to “appoint a person who is an eminent and reputed academician as Chancellor”.
    • It has widened the areas of eminence to the fields of science, including agriculture and veterinary science, technology, medicine, social science, humanities, literature, art, culture, law, and public administration.
  • Provisions for Vice-Chancellors (V-C):
    • It has specific provisions for appointing V-C in-charge of the universities in the event of the absence of a V-C. In such a situation; the Chancellor shall assign the responsibility to the Pro-V-C (P-V-C) until the new V-C assumes charge.
    • A V-C of any other university shall be appointed as V-C of the university where the post of the V-C and P-V-C are vacant.
    • Such an appointment can be made in consultation with the Chancellor of the other university concerned.
  • However, the Bill, if passed, will negate the Governor’s watchdog role in university administration and accord the government more leeway in appointing Chancellors of its choice.

Provisions for Chancellors:

  • Appointment:
    • The Governor is ex-officio Chancellor of the State Universities. As per the provisions of the Act of the concerned University, the Governor appoints the Vice Chancellor on the advice/ in consultation with the State Government.
  • Removal:
    • The service of the Chancellor can be terminated on charges of abuse of official position only after an inquiry by a retired judge of the Supreme Court or High Court.
    • The Chancellor can also be removed if declared as un-discharged insolvent or is incapable to continue in the office due to physical or mental, unsound mind and conviction for an offence involving moral turpitude or financial irregularities.
  • Term of Office: The Chancellor will have a term of five years and will be eligible for reappointment for one more term.

Role of Governor as Chancellor:  

The Chancellor, by virtue of his office is a Head of the University, and vested with following powers:-

  • Appoints the Vice-Chancellors by setting up a search committee, recommend a panel of names from which he/ she makes final selection and appointment. Consequently, Chancellor is also vested with the authority to grant leave or institute disciplinary action and award penalties.
  • Power to nominate certain members to the Executive Council/ Court of the University.
  • Chancellor as appellate authority has power to annul decisions of the various university bodies/ authorities which in his view, is against the Act, statutes, ordinances and regulations.
  • Power to assent or withheld assent to the statutes and other regulations passed by the Executive Council of the university submitted to the Chancellor for assent.
  • Power to hear memorandum and representation of the employees and students.
  • Power to take final decisions on election disputes with regard to the representation in different bodies of the universities and managing committees of its colleges.
  • Power to nominate experts in the appointment of teachers of various categories in the university.
  • Power to preside over the convocation of the university and meeting of its Court/ Senate.
  • Intermediate between Government and Universities: In order to draw the attention of the Government on police issues and streamline the academic session and improve standard of University Education, convenes review meetings of Vice-Chancellors and concerned ministries.

What did the Supreme Court say about Chancellors’ Appointment?

  • Against the UGC norms: In a case challenging the appointment of S. Rajasreeas V-C of the APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University, Thiruvananthapuram, the Supreme Court held that her appointment was contrary to the regulations of the University Grants Commission (UGC).
  • Lack of Alternatives: According to the Search Committee, they had identified only one candidateand recommended the name to the Chancellor for the appointment.
    • However, under UGC regulations, a panel of three to five namesshould be recommended so that the Chancellor has a number of options to choose from.
  • State Governments’ stand: The court rejected the State government’s argumentthat it had not specifically adopted the UGC regulations, holding that the regulations framed under a Central law will override the State government’s relevant rules.
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