Kerala Left government introduces University Laws (Amendment) Bill in the Assembly . Opposition UDF argued that the change would lower varsities to just government departments .
Thiruvananthapuram (India): The Kerala Left government introduced the University Laws (Amendment) Bill in the Assembly on Wednesday to replace the Governor as the Chancellor of universities in the state and appoint eminent academicians in the top job, even though opposition UDF argued that the change would lower varsities to just government departments.In the House, Law Minister P Rajeeve introduced the bill, which comes as a result of a continuing feud between Governor Arif Mohammed Khan and the Pinarayi Vijayan administration over various issues, including the appointment of Vice-Chancellors of Universities.Though the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) emphasized that they were not opposed to the ability of a democratic government to remove the Governor as Chancellor, they argued that the proposed model, which was introduced by the Bill, would weaken the universities' autonomy.The government will designate an academician of high distinction or a person of repute in any of the branches of science, including agriculture and veterinary science, research, medicine, social science, humanities, literature, art, culture, science, or public administration, as the Chancellor of the University, according to the Bill.The Minister told the Cabinet that the Left government chose to write the bill after reviewing the recommendations of various expert panels, including the Punchhi Commission and other higher education commissions.He said that the entire House, both the ruling and opposition benches, is in agreement with the proposal to oust the Governor as Chancellor.Also read: The government and the opposition have their differences about other parts of the bill, such as the Financial Memorandum, and so on.When V D Satheesan, the State Assembly's Leader of Opposition, raised reservations about the selection of new Chancellors in universities, Rajeeve asked if the Chief Minister should be named Chancellor. The Chief Ministers are adorning the top post in Congress-ruled states like Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, he said.The Law Minister said that the LDF government considered in a different direction and wanted to bring in top academicians as Chancellors, but that was opposed by the LDF government.He asked if anyone can recommend another prominent person than world-famous dancer Mallika Sarabhai to the Chancellorship of Kerala Kalamandalam Deemed-to-be University, from where the Governor had already been re-appointed as Chancellor recently.However, Satheesan argued that the bill was drawn in haste without much consideration and had several flaws. The bill would not be presented in the House because it was incomplete, according to him.In the Bill, there is no reference to the age-limit and the minimum educational level for the Chancellor.This means that the government will appoint any individual to the top job as it pleases.According to Satheesan, it would diminish the universities' autonomy and devolve into mere government departments. We are not against the dismissal of the Governor as Chancellor.We are against the alternative model that you (the government) are proposing.Since it is such a significant bill that will result in radical changes in the higher education sector, it should have been discussed with the Opposition before being proposed, he said.When the Minister asked about their suggestion, the LoP said he couldn't say anything at the moment because it would be discussed within his faction and the front. Participants included K K Shailaja and Saji Cheriyan (both CPI-M), Mohammed Mohsin (CPI), Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan (Congress), and so on.Speaker A N Shamseer then refered the bill to the Subcommittee for further discussion and scrutiny.The bill states that the individual named as Chancellor will be eligible for re-election for a further term, among other things.The Chancellor's office will be located at the University's headquarters, according to the letter.