Governor vs LDF: Kerala HC refuses to stay appointment of Ciza Thomas as interim V-C of Technological University

a development, the court directed the Chancellor not to take a final decision on the vice-chancellors, who were served show-cause notices.

BySreerag PS

Published Nov 08, 2022 | 6:30 PMUpdatedNov 08, 2022 | 7:45 PM

Kerala High Court

The High Court of Kerala on Tuesday, 8 November, refused to stay the appointment of Dr Ciza Thomas as the interim vice-chancellor of the APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University.

The court gave the ruling after the state government filed a petition challenging the Governor — also the Chancellor — appointing Thomas, the Joint Director of the Technical Education Department, as the interim vice-chancellor.

Governor Arif Mohammad Khan directed Thomas to take interim charge of the university after rejecting the government’s nominee, Saji Gopinath, vice-chancellor, of the Digital University of Kerala, on 3 November.

The state government had earlier appointed Dr Rajasree MS as the vice-chancellor. Her appointment was challenged in the Supreme Court. The court annulled the appointment, citing a violation of University Grants Commission (UGC) norms.

The court’s interim order came amid an ongoing tussle between the Pinarayi Vijayan-led LDF government and Governor Khan over the appointment of vice-chancellors.

Violation of the University Act, argues the government

According to LiveLaw, the Kerala government submitted before the court that the appointment of Thomas did not conform to the provisions of the APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University Act, 2015.


Arif Mohammad Khan. (South First)

The state also argued that only vice-chancellors of any other university or pro-vice-chancellors, or the secretary of the Higher Education Department, could be appointed as the interim vice-chancellor, based on the government’s recommendation.

The government also pleaded that if the principal secretary to the state government was found ineligible by the Chancellor, the pro-vice-chancellor of the university, Dr S Ayoob, could have been given the interim charge.

However, Jaju Babu, senior counsel who appeared for the Chancellor, informed the court that given the Supreme Court verdict quashing the appointment of Rajasree, only an academician with 10 years of service could be appointed as the vice-chancellor as per UGC regulations.

Thomas had worked for more than 10 years as a professor at the College of Engineering in Thiruvananthapuram (CET).

The court will further hear the case on Friday, 11 November.

Protest by Left organisations

Meanwhile, the Students Federation of India (SFI), Kerala Gazetted Officers’ Association and the KTU Employees Union launched protests against Thomas. The protesters raised slogans and blocked the way to the university.

In October, the All Kerala Private College Association (AKPCTA) also conducted a series of protests, including burning Governor Khan in effigy, for interfering in the appointments of vice-chancellors.

Court asks Governor not to act against VCs

In a related but separate development, the high court directed the Chancellor not to take a final decision on the vice-chancellors until the court decided on their petitions.

The vice-chancellors have challenged the Chancellor’s show-cause notices issued to them. Still, they filed their replies to the Governor on Monday, 7 November.

The court adjourned the case to 17 November.