SC quashes re-appointment of Dr Gopinath as Kannur University Vice Chancellor

New Delhi, Nov 30 (UNI) Supreme Court on Thursday quashed the re-appointment of Dr Gopinath Raveendran as the Vice Chancellor of Kannur University.

A three-judge bench of the Top Court, headed by CJI Dr Dhananjaya Yeshwant Chandrachud, and also comprising Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, pronounced the verdict.

The Apex Court pronounced the verdict after it reviewed petitions challenging Gopinath Ravindran’s re-appointment as VC.

Premachandran Keezhoth, member of the Kannur University senate, and Shino P Jose, member of the Academic Council had knocked the doors of the SC against the re-appointment process.

While setting aside the Kerala High Court’s order of upholding the re-appointment of Gopinath Ravindran as Vice Chancellor of Kannur University, the Top Court noted in its judgement that the appointment was vitiated by the undue interference from the Government of Kerala.

Justice Pardiwala, who pronounced the judgment on behalf of the bench, said that this court pronounced the verdict after considering four questions — Whether re-appointment is permissible in a tenure post, Whether the upper age limit of 60 years as stipulated in Section 10(9) of the Kannur University Act is applicable even in the case of reappointment for four years, Whether re-appointment has to follow the same process as the appointment of VC by setting up a selection panel and Did the Chancellor abdicate or surrender the statutory power of reappointment?

The Apex court said that the decision stood vitiated by the unwarranted interference by State Government.

“Although the notification for reappointment was issued by the Chancellor, the decision stood vitiated by the unwarranted interference by State Government”, the Court said in its verdict.

The bench allowed the appeal challenging the February 2022 judgment delivered by a division bench of the Kerala High Court approving the re-appointment of the VC and affirming the December 2021 single bench judgment.

The Apex Court said that the Chancellor (Kerala Governor) “abdicated or surrendered” the statutory powers for re-appointing the Vice Chancellor.

The court had earlier, during its many hearings, reportedly questioned the government as to how a person above 60 years could be re-appointed as VC.

As per the norms of Kannur University, those above 60 years cannot be appointed as VC. However, the government contended before the SC that the norm would not be applicable for re-appointment.

That’s when CJI Dr Chandrachud questioned the decision and observed that norms should be followed.

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