If government wants swift action on Bills, they need to explain the urgency: Kerala Governor

Governor Arif Mohammad Khan also said he was open to advice from the state government, 'but not pressure from them'.

BySouth First Desk

Published Dec 06, 2023 | 3:17 PMUpdatedDec 06, 2023 | 3:19 PM

Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan

Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan on Wednesday, 6 December, said that the state government should come to the Raj Bhavan and give him an explanation if they wanted urgent action regarding any Bill or ordinance.

The Governor said that his enquiries after seeing the news reports found that the ordinances had come two-and-a-half weeks ago.

Khan also said he was open to advice from the state government, “but not pressure from them.”

Khan’s statement assumes significance as he has admitted that he succumbed to the pressure from the state government concerning the re-appointment of Gopinath Ravindran as vice-chancellor (VC) of Kannur University a decision that has been quashed by the Supreme Court.

Related: I am not a rubber stamp or a yes man: Kerala Governor

‘Succumbed to pressure due to legal opinion’

The Governor, speaking to reporters in Thiruvananthapuram, said he succumbed to the government pressure only because there was a legal opinion from the Advocate General (AG), the highest law officer in the state, in favour of the re-appointment.

“I have said before the the media that what I did was wrong. But, I succumbed to that pressure only because there was a legal opinion from the Advocate General. Otherwise, the political pressure I would have resisted.

“If I have some confusion about the legality of something, to whom would I go? The Advocate General. He is the highest legal officer in the state,” Khan said.

He claimed that while agreeing to the re-appointment he had said that the Advocate General’s opinion was illegal and he wrote the same on the file.

On the status of the vacant VC positions in several universities in the state, Khan said that he as Chancellor has set the process in motion for filling those posts as soon as the apex court judgment came.

He, however, said that the positions were vacant for so long, in some cases almost a year, because of the state government.

Related: SC overturns G Ravindran’s reappointment as VC of Kannur University

‘Open to advice’

Khan said that according to media reports, the state government had asked university syndicates not to send their nominee for the search and selection committees and to wait for his tenure as Governor to end.

“With the SC verdict coming, the appointment process was set in motion, it will take some time,” he said.

Asked whether he would seek the government’s advice with regard to the appointments, Khan said, “I am open to advice from them, but I am not open to pressure from them.”

The Supreme Court, while quashing Ravindran’s reappointment, had berated the Left government for its “unwarranted intervention” in the matter.

The apex court had found fault with Khan’s order reappointing Ravindran to the post, saying the Governor had earlier “abdicated or surrendered” the statutory powers for reappointing the VC.

It also said it is the Chancellor who is conferred with competence under law to appoint or reappoint VCs. “No other person, even the pro-chancellor or any superior authority can interfere with the functioning of the statutory authority,” it had held.

Following the verdict, Khan had said that state Higher Education Minister R Bindu was not to be blamed as the chief minister had used her to seek the reappointment of Ravindran.

He had accused Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan of exerting pressure on him in the matter.

Related: SC criticises Kerala Governor for sitting on Bills for two years

Avoid calling PoK as ‘Azad Kashmir’

He also asked Vijayan to ensure that the Marxist party’s members and supporters avoid calling Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (PoK) as ‘Azad Kashmir’ and not “stoke the fires of separatism and regionalism.”

“I request the chief minister to not speak to me through the media. I cordially invite him to the Raj Bhavan to explain to me the urgency regarding any Bill or ordinance. If they want me to act with urgency, then they should come to the Raj Bhavan and explain the rationale of whatever they are proposing. I assure you that there will be no bias. I will consider it on merit,” Khan said.

He also asked the chief minister and Marxist veteran Vijayan to ensure that his party’s supporters and members “do not trash the Constitution”.

“They should not describe Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir as ‘Azad Kashmir’ nor should they try to stoke the fires of separatism and regionalism. They should stop these things. These are anti-constitutional activities which pose a danger to the unity and integrity of the nation,” Khan said.

He said that if this was ensured, there would be no bias on his part.

(With PTI inputs)