Kerala Governor stays appointment of Priya Varghese in Kannur University

Governor Arif Mohammad Khan stayed the appointment of Priya Varghese, wife of CM Pinarayi Vijayan’s Private Secretary, after which the Kannur University VC reportedly decied to challenge his decision in court.
Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan
Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan
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Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan on Thursday, August 18, criticised the Kannur University's move to appoint a CPI(M) leader's wife as an Associate Professor in its Malayalam Department, saying appointing a person who is not qualified appears to be a case of favouritism and nepotism. A day after the Governor, in his capacity as Chancellor of the university, stayed the controversial appointment of Priya Varghese, wife of CPI(M) leader KK Ragesh, Arif said late on Thursday, "It appears that the violation of the law has become the norm."

"The process of the appointment, it appears to be a case of favouritism and nepotism. A person who is not qualified to be appointed as an assistant professor on prima facie is being appointed because she is the spouse of the secretary to the chief minister. This is political. There is absolutely no doubt," he told reporters in New Delhi.

Arif also slammed the university Vice-Chancellor's reported decision to challenge his action in the court. "A subordinate officer of the institution can go against the head of the institution, whether it amounts to insubordination, it amounts to indiscipline, I have not checked with the legal experts," the Governor said, responding to a query.

Meanwhile, CPI(M) described Arif's decision to stay the appointment as "unconstitutional". The ruling party claimed nothing "illegal" was committed by the university authorities in connection with the appointment of Priya Varghese as the Associate Professor.

Rejecting charges of the Governor that the varsity's move appears to be a case of "favouritism and nepotism", CPI(M) State Secretariat member AK Balan hit back at Arif, saying his appointment to the constitutional post was also a politically motivated decision. "The stand taken by the Governor is unconstitutional, a violation of the Kannur University Act and also against natural justice," Balan, who is also a former Law Minister, said in response to the governor's allegations.

Priya Varghese had been proposed to be appointed as an associate professor in the Malayalam Department by Kannur University, which triggered a huge political row as her marksheet showed the lowest research score. However, she had the highest score in the interview round and was awarded first rank in the selection process. Justifying the Governor's action to stay the proposed appointment, Congress leader and Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly VD Satheesan said that Arif had actually used his power to prevent the Kannur University's attempt to make an illegal appointment.

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