Kochi, Sep 17 (PTI) Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan on Saturday said the state government cannot be given the power to appoint vice chancellors of universities as it would amount to 'executive interference.' The Governor's statement comes a day after Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan lashed out at Khan over his remarks on alleged nepotism in appointments in the state varsities, calling it "absurd." Addressing the press here in the morning, Khan said, "Under qualified and unqualified people, just because they are related to the personal staff of the Chief Minister, cannot be allowed to be appointed." A visibly fuming Governor said these institutions belong to the people of Kerala and not to those who are dressed in "little brief authority" If somebody is qualified, they are most welcome and as far as qualified persons are concerned, there cannot be any objection to them, Khan said.
"The government cannot be given the power to appoint the vice chancellors...I am saying it clearly...this will amount to executive interference." Khan said the CM had earlier written a letter to him in which he had assured that there would be no interference. "And now they are proposing that they will appoint the Vice Chancellor. That would mean erosion of autonomy of the educational institutions. As long as I am here, I will not allow the erosion of autonomy of the universities," he said.
Asked about the Lok Ayukta (Amendment Bill), passed by the state Assembly recently, Khan said there is no question of any time limit and "everything would be considered on merit".
Noting that he was yet to see the file of Lok Ayukta Bill, he said he had seen the assembly proceedings of the passing of the bill and the news reports in this regard.
He said there is one basic rule of jurisprudence, which says that if there is a complaint against a person, he or she cannot sit in judgement for their own cause.
Welcoming CM's comments on the varsity appointments issue, Khan said he was happy that Vijayan was at least not trying to play the game from behind the curtain now and came out with a statement openly.
"I am so happy that the Chief Minister has come out openly. He has given this statement. I welcome his statement. Because now at least he is not trying to play the game from behind the curtain. Now instead of using proxies like Irfan Habib...like some vice chancellors whom he asked to defy the orders of the chancellor, at least now he has come out openly," the Governor said.
Khan alleged that though there was an attempt to attack him physically at the Kannur University during the History Congress some time back, the police was prevented from registering a case.
"What was the duty of the police? To register a case...who prevented the police from registering a case? Who held the home department? You are trying to denigrate, demean the office of the Governor. You have tried every trick in the box to pressurise me and to frighten me," he alleged.
He sought to know whether some higher authority prevents the police from taking legal action. "Was it an act of favoritism? Or that person was part of a conspiracy?" Khan also said though he had been writing to the Chief Minister for the last three years that it was his constitutional duty to brief the Governor regularly, he never paid any attention.
"I do not know why he is so afraid of meeting me? He wants to talk to me through the media? He is welcome...people have the right to know what the government is doing," the Governor added. The Chief Minister had during a press meet on Friday urged the Governor to keep the decorum of the position he holds.
Reacting to Khan's allegations, he asked, "Is this what is meant by the position of a Governor?" He was responding to a query on Khan's statement that he will not allow the University Laws Amendment Bill recently passed by the state assembly, alleging it seeks to legalise illegalities and pave the way for appointment of "unqualified relatives" of staff of the Chief Minister and his cabinet colleagues.