The Role of Governors in Appointing Vice-Chancellors: Supreme Court Verdict
In a recent verdict, the Supreme Court of India has provided clarity regarding the role of governors in the appointment of vice-chancellors (VCs) for state-run universities. The court emphasized that the governor, who serves as the ex-officio chancellor of these universities, holds significant authority in the selection process, and their opinion is considered final.
The verdict was given in response to a case regarding the reappointment of the vice-chancellor of Kerala’s Kannur University. The court stated that the governor is not merely a symbolic figurehead but actively participates in the decision-making process for the appointment of VCs. As the ex-officio chancellor, the governor is not obligated to act according to the advice given by the council of ministers, asserting their independence in this matter.
West Bengal Governor CV Ananda Bose, who has been embroiled in a dispute with the state government over the appointment of VCs, expressed his support for the Supreme Court’s ruling. He emphasized the court’s clarification that the chancellor retains the authority to appoint VCs and stated that state governments should refrain from interfering in university administration, particularly in VC appointments.
Bose further explained that the termination of certain VCs in West Bengal was a consequence of their recruitment process not adhering to proper protocols. He gave the affected VCs the option to resign voluntarily, and upon their agreement, accepted their resignations. He also mentioned that he could not grant extensions to VCs as suggested by the state government due to their lack of eligibility.
The Supreme Court, taking note of the ongoing discord between the West Bengal government and the governor, has called upon the Attorney General for India to facilitate an amicable appointment of VCs in state-run universities. The court emphasized the need to appoint individuals of eminence to these positions and urged the AG to hold a meeting with all stakeholders to resolve the issue.
Previously, the court had stayed the emoluments of newly appointed interim VCs in October and had encouraged the governor and the chief minister to engage in discussions to find a resolution. The court recognizes the importance of reconciliation between the two parties for the benefit of educational institutions and the future careers of countless students.
To streamline the appointment process for VCs in state-run universities, the apex court had previously sought names of eminent personalities from various fields to establish a search committee responsible for shortlisting and appointing VCs.
The Calcutta High Court had also previously affirmed the authority of the chancellor to appoint VCs as prescribed in relevant enactments.
With the latest verdict of the Supreme Court, the role of governors as ex-officio chancellors in the appointment of VCs has been reinforced. This ruling aims to ensure the selection of capable and eminent individuals to lead state-run universities and maintain their high standards of education and research.
Overall, the Supreme Court’s verdict sets a precedent and clarifies the legal position of the chancellor in VC appointments, underscoring the need for effective collaboration between relevant stakeholders to ensure the smooth functioning of state-run universities and the advancement of higher education in India.