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Kannur University: Political appointments fuel a fire of allegations

Senate member asks for the reassessment of all appointments made during pandemic days

Kannur University: Political appointments fuel a fire of allegations
First Published Nov 19, 2022, 1:36 PM IST

Kannur University finds itself in the midst of a raging controversy. With the Kerala High Court cancelling the selection of Priya Varghese, wife of KK Ragesh, private secretary to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, as associate professor, allegations are being raised against the varsity related to all recent appointments.

Dr RK Biju, a member of the university senate, has asked the university to re-examine all the appointments done through online procedures during the days of the pandemic. He said he would approach the court if university officials fail to do it.

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The High Court's ruling has further strengthened the allegation that the majority of appointments are done flouting rules and regulations. Dr Biju said that Priya Varghese was made the topper among candidates for the post, and all the procedures for her appointment were completed in record time. He alleged that her appointment was a return of favour for the reappointment of the Vice-Chancellor.

It was in September 2021 that the Board of Studies was reconstructed, following which irregularities crept into appointments like never before. Soon, the pro-UDF Kerala Private College Teachers' Association (KPCTA) filed a petition with the high court against the appointments, pointing out that they were completed without the approval of the Governor, who is the University Chancellor. 

The association also alleged that 68 members of the Board of Studies are not eligible for the post.

The court ruled that all appointments of the university should be approved by the Governor. While allegations were being raised against the malpractices, the university revised the list of Board members twice without changing even a single name and sent it to the Governor for approval. 

Though the Governor directed the university to remove all those unqualified persons from the Board, nothing has been done so far. There has been no list of members and no Board of Studies too, for more than a year now.

Another controversy erupted with the allegation that the syllabus for MA (Governance & Politics) in Brennan College, Thalassery, was revised to include pro-RSS thoughts and concepts. The allegation led to protests from various corners for highlighting RRS ideology in the Left-dominated university, leading to the withdrawal of the course syllabus.

Now, with the cancellation of Priya's appointment, irregularities in the university have come under the spotlight again. Vice-Chancellor Gopinath Raveendran has been reprimanded by the High Court while dismissing the University's approval for a self-financing college in Padanna, Kasaragod. The court mentioned that the 'VC crossed his limits in terms of authority'.

The university had to face an embarrassing situation in the midst of all these allegations when the previous years' question paper was repeated as such for the exam. To save face, it had to replace the Controller of Examinations.

With the Governor opposing the appointment of all Vice-Chancellors made by the CPM-backed Kerala government, the scene went darker for Kannur University. The VC finds himself in a hotspot as KPCTA leaders Dr Shino P Jose and Dr Premachandran Keezhoth have moved the Supreme Court against his reappointment. They alleged that his appointment was made without the approval of the search committee and flouted the rule regarding the age limit of 60.

As the Supreme Court has already ruled that a VC appointment without the search committee's approval is not valid, VC Gopinath Raveendran is looking at days of uncertainty and controversies ahead of him.

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