The Supreme Court on Friday announced its verdict on a petition filed against the appointment of Dr Rajasree MS as the Vice-chancellor of APJ Abdul Kalam Technical University (APJAKTU). The bench comprising Justices MR Shah and CT Ravikumar declared that Dr Rajasree’s appointment to the post, notified in 2019, had violated the University Grant Commission’s (UGC) norms, reported LiveLaw.
A former candidate for the chair of VC for the university, Dr Sreejith PS, had filed a petition against the appointment. In the ruling, the apex court has overruled the judgement of the Kerala High Court. The state of Kerala had advertised for the post of VC at APJAKTU twice. Dr Sreejith, former dean of Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT), was one of the shortlisted candidates per the first list. However, the dissolution of the committee constituting the VC led to a second notification being released.
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The petitioner’s name was dropped from this list. He later learned that the chancellor had appointed Dr Rajasree to the post on February 19, 2019. The decision was challenged in the Kerala High Court through a petition. Here, first, a single bench and then a division bench dismissed the petition. Dr Sreejith then appealed to the Supreme Court.
He contended that the chief secretary could not be a part of the ‘Search Committee’ as only prominent names in education or people connected to the University could be a part of the process. He further claimed that due process was not followed for the appointment.
Reportedly, of the 26 applicants for the post of VC, 22 qualified. Five of them were shortlisted. Yet, instead of forwarding these names, the search committee only sent Dr Rajasree’s name for the appointment.
The apex court noted that the search committee, in violation of the stipulations of the UGC, did not forward three names to the chancellor. Despite the state of Kerala arguing that per the 2013 order of the UGC, it was allowed to make appointments based on state laws, the Supreme Court declared the appointment null and void ab initio.
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