Role of Governors in State Universities

Recently, a controversy has erupted in Kerala on the reappointment of Gopinath Ravindran as Vice Chancellor of Kannur University. Governor of Kerala Arif Mohammed Khan stated that, he approved the decision against his better judgement as Chancellor.

What role Governors play in state universities?

Governor of the state acts as the ex-officio chancellor of the universities, in most of the cases. The powers and functions of Governor as the Chancellor are provided in statutes governing the universities under any particular state government.

Contradicting Role

  • Role of Governor in appointing the Vice Chancellors has often led to disputes with political executive.
  • In Kerala, there is a dispute over the role of governor. Governor’s official portal in Kerala provide that “as Governor he functions with the aid & advice of Council of Ministers, on the other hand as Chancellor he acts independently of Council of Ministers & free to take his own decisions on all University matters”.
  • Role of governor in Kerala is in contrast to the role in Rajasthan, where official portal provides that “Governor appoints the Vice Chancellor in consultation with State Government”.

Kerala Controversy

In the month of December 2021, Gopinath Ravindran was re-appointed as VC in Kannur University for another four years. He is above 60 while according to Kannur University Act, no person aged above 60 shall be appointed as VC. Furthermore, state government had recently amended the University Act, under which provisions related to powers of Governor as Chancellor to make appointments for University Appellate Tribunal were removed.

Governors of the states

Governors of the states have similar powers and functions as the President of India, at the state level. Governors exist in the states, while Lieutenant Governors or Administrators are there in union territories. Governor acts as the nominal head in states while real power lies with Chief ministers of the states.

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