Tamil Nadu Assembly adopts Bills to empower govt. to appoint Vice-Chancellors

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The Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly on Monday adopted two Bills that seek to empower the government to appoint the Vice-Chancellors (VCs) to 13 State universities under the aegis of the Higher Education Department by amending the respective Acts. The AIADMK and the BJP opposed the Bill and the latter also staged a walkout.

At present, the Governor, who is also the Chancellor of the State universities, makes the appointment of VCs from a panel of three names recommended by a selection committee. Incidentally, the House adopted the Bills on the same day Governor R.N. Ravi inaugurated a two-day conference of VCs of State, Central and private universities of Tamil Nadu at Udhagamandalam.

The Bills introduced in the House by Higher Education Minister K. Ponmudy cited the Gujarat University Act, 1949, Telangana Universities Act, 1991, which have empowered the respective State government to appoint the VCs and also cited the Karnataka State Universities Act, 2000, according to which the VCs shall be appointed by the Chancellor with the concurrence of the State government.

During his speech when the Bills were moved in the House, Chief Minister M.K. Stalin said though it had been the tradition that the Governor would consult the government, there had been a change in the recent past.

“During the past four years, there has been a trend in which the Governor, without consulting the State government, is functioning as if he has the exclusive right over appointing VCs,” Mr. Stalin contended. The fact that the State government could not appoint VCs for universities under its control affected its administration, he said.

“As the State government is not able to appoint the VCs for universities under its control this has led to various confusion. It is against the ideals of democracy,” the Chief Minister said. Citing the recommendations of the Punchchi Commission over the appointment of VCs, Mr. Stalin went on to quote from them: “There would be a clash of functions and powers.”

A total of 19 States, including Tamil Nadu, had accepted the recommendations of the Punchchi Commission, he said.

Soon after the DMK government under him came to power and when the Union Home Ministry sought its opinion on the recommendations of the Punchchi Commission, Mr. Stalin said his government had accepted them.

“Even Gujarat, from where Prime Minister Narendra Modi hails, the State government appoints a VC from a panel of three names recommended by the Selection Committee. Likewise, in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Telangana too, the VCs are appointed from a panel of three names recommended by the Selection Committee only with the concurrence of the State government,” Mr. Stalin pointed out.

AIADMK legislator K.P. Anbalagan and BJP MLA Nainar Nagenthran opposed the Bills even during the introductory stage.

BJP MLAs walking out of the Assembly on Monday.

BJP MLAs walking out of the Assembly on Monday.
| Photo Credit: R. Ragu

After a voice vote, Speaker M. Appavu said the Bills had been adopted by the House. The 13 State universities for which Bills sought to empower the State government to appoint VCs are: Chennai University, Madurai Kamaraj University, Anna University, Bharathiar University, Bharathidasan University, Mother Teresa Women’s University, Alagappa University, Manonmaniam Sundaranar University, Periyar University, Tamil Nadu Open University, Thiruvalluvar University, Tamil Nadu Teachers Education University and Annamalai University.


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