Kerr Assembly Passes Controversial University Law Bill; UDF boycott

The Kerala Assembly on Thursday passed the controversial University Laws (Amendment) Bill 2022, which will result in curtailment of the governor’s powers as the Chancellor of the state’s universities. The opposition Congress-UDF boycotted the proceedings of the House ahead of the voting, alleging that the government was trying to appoint “puppets” of the ruling party to key positions in universities.

Announcing their boycott, Leader of Opposition in the Assembly VD Satheesan said the bill was an “insult” to the higher education sector of the state. Before leaving the hall, he alleged that the bill would affect the autonomy of universities and set a wrong precedent in the field of higher education.

However, high education Minister R Bindu claimed that the propaganda of the opposition and the media that the bill would take away the powers of the governor was wrong. The bill was passed at a time when the ruling CPI(M) was facing allegations of nepotism from opposition parties regarding the appointment of teachers in several universities in the state.

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The new bill will restrict the governor’s authority in the appointment of university vice-chancellors (VCs), who hold the office of chancellor. Governor Arif Mohammad Khan and the CPI(M)-led LDF government have been at loggerheads for some time over various issues, including the appointment of the Kannur University Vice-Chancellor.

Khan, as chancellor, had also barred the appointment of a Malayalam associate professor in the same university, in which Priya Varghese, wife of KK Ragesh, private secretary to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, was given the first place for interview.

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