Thiruvananthapuram, 13th December 2022: The Kerala state assembly has on Tuesday, passed two university law amendment bills to replace governor as chancellor of 14 universities. This will apply to the universities – Kerala, Mahatma Gandhi, Kochi, Calicut, Kannur, Shankaracharya, Tunchathezhuttachchan Malayalam, Kerala Digital, Sree Narayanaguru Open, Kerala Agriculture, Kerala Veterinary and Animal Science, Kerala Fisheries and Ocean Studies, Kerala Arogya and APJ Abdul Kalam.
The bill was passed after lots of discussions and also with the United Democratic Front stagging a walkout in protest against the non-approval of their proposed amendments to the bill. The opposition had moved a motion to appoint one chancellor for the 14 universities, instead of separate ones for each university. They proposed a retired Supreme Court judge or a retired Chief Justice of the Kerala High Court to the post of chancellor. And also wanted a selection committee comprising the Chief Minister, Chief Justice of the Kerala High Court, and the Leader of Opposition, to select the chancellor.
Law Minister P. Rajeev, who had presented the bill, said about the potential legal hurdles in including the chief justice in the panel and instead recommended the speaker to be in the selection committee with chief minister and leader if opposition. This was passed. According to the new legislation, the chancellors who are selected thus can be unseated by the government if any grave accusation arise against them. This can be done on the basis of an investigation carried out by an ex-judge of the high court or the supreme court.
The Leader of Opposition V.D. Satheesan accused the government of trying to fill universities up with people that favoured the left and thereby decreasing the autonomy of such institutions. The draft bill has been prepared on the basis of the recommendations of the Punchhi Commission.