Kerala guv asks VCs to return varsity funds spent on legal battle against him

Eleven former VCs had moved court against governor Arif Mohammed Khan after he nullified their appointments while upholding SC order

Kerala governor Arif Mohammed Khan (photo: @KeralaGovernor/X)
Kerala governor Arif Mohammed Khan (photo: @KeralaGovernor/X)

NH Digital

Kerala governor Arif Mohammed Khan has asked former vice-chancellors of universities in Kerala to return the money they spent from university funds for their legal battles against his order declaring their appointments null and void.

Eleven former VCs had moved court against the governor after he nullified their appointments while upholding a Supreme Court order. As per official records, these VCs had spent Rs 1.13 crore in their legal battle against the governor.

In the notice issued to the universities on 9 July, Raj Bhavan has asked to recover the money "illegally" spent by the VCs in their personal interest. The governor noted that sanctioning funds towards these legal expenses is not justifiable and termed it a misuse of university funds, especially because these were proceedings against the chancellor and the university.

Dr Gopinath Raveendran, former VC of Kannur University, spent the highest amount of Rs 69 lakh from the university fund for legal proceedings against the governor's order that declared his appointment ab initio void. Dr Riji John, former VC of KUFOS (Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies), utilised Rs 36 lakh from the official fund for the same purpose. 

Former VCs Dr M.S. Rajashree (KTU), M.K. Jayaraj (University of Calicut), Dr K.N. Madhusoodanan (CUSAT), Dr V. Anil Kumar (Malayalam University) and Dr Mubarak Pasha (Sree Narayana Open University) had spent Rs 1.5 lakh, Rs 4.25 lakh, Rs 77,500, Rs 1 lakh and Rs 53,000 respectively.

This was revealed in a reply by state higher education minister R. Bindu to a question by Perumbavoor MLA Eldhose Kunnappilly, with the reply also showing that around Rs 8 lakh was spent by Kannur University on the case relating to the appointment of Priya Varghese, wife of chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s private secretary K.K. Ragesh, as associate professor.

As per the reply, then VCs of Kannur University and KUFOS engaged senior counsel K.K. Venugopal to fight their case. Calicut University incurred an expense of Rs 4.25 lakh as the then VC sought the services of a senior advocate instead of the varsity’s standing counsel in the high court.

In October 2022, Khan had directed VCs of nine universities to resign following a Supreme Court order, alleging violations of University Grants Commission norms in their appointment process.

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